Be ready for severe weather

Each year, despite advance warnings, many citizens are killed or seriously injured by tornadoes and other types of severe weather. In 2012, there were more than 450 weather-related fatalities, and nearly 2,600 injuries. Severe weather knows no boundaries, and affects all it encounters.

A storm can strike suddenly,so pick a spot where loved ones could gather if a tornado is headed your way. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered. If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.

Tornado watches and warnings are issued by the National Weather Service. A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area. Go to safety immediately.

When a tornado watch is issued, monitor radio, your cell phone or television for the latest weather updates. Be alert to changing weather conditions. Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you; many people say it sounds like a freight train.

When a tornado warning is issued, go to a safe place indoors and protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. If you are outdoors, hurry to the basement of a sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area and use your arms to protect your head. If you are in a car or a mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety.

After a tornado passes, stay out of the damaged area and watch out for fallen power lines. Listen to the radio for information and instructions. Use a flashlight; do not use candles at any time.

In Illinois, we experience tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, flash floods, and other types of severe weather. Check the weather forecast regularly and visit www.ready.gov/severe-weather to learn more about how to be better prepared, and how you can protect your family during these emergencies.

For more information on this topic, contact James Ward, Sycamore Fire Department Fire Prevention Coordinator, at 815-895-4514.

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