There are so many things to love about spring. But along with warmer weather and April showers comes a chance for dangerous, even deadly, spring storms like the ones seen earlier this month right here in Northern Illinois.
Knowing what to do before a storm strikes can make all the difference when it comes to surviving a tornado or strong thunderstorm. So take a few minutes to learn what to do to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Make it a habit to watch the weather. Tune in to the nightly news, listen to the radio, or install a weather app on your phone. Know what to expect, keeping in mind that things can change quickly and unexpectedly.
When storms are predicted or the weather looks threatening, tune into your local television or radio station to keep on top of warnings and watches. You might also want to install a weather alert app on your phone. Try Storm Shield, Simple Weather Alert or NOAA Weather.
A TORNADO WATCH means conditions are favorable for development of a tornado. Keep your eyes on the sky.
A TORNADO WARNING means a tornado has been sighted. Take shelter!
An NOAA weather radio provides up-to-the-minute information about severe weather. They’re available where electronics are sold. Look for a model with battery backup, so it will keep on working if the power goes out.
Know Where to Go
Determine where you will go if a storm strikes, and make sure all members of the household know it. Experts say the lowest point is the safest point in a tornado. If there’s a basement, go there, keeping in mind that the trip downstairs might not be easy for older adults.
If there is no basement, or if a person is unable to go downstairs, choose a point at the center of the home, away from windows. An interior hallway or bathroom might be the safest place. The idea is to put as many walls as possible between you and the storm. If possible, get under a piece of heavy furniture or in a bathtub. Place yourself against a wall and cover your head with your arms and hands to protect yourself from flying debris.
Don’t waste time opening windows or grabbing valuables. Just get yourself and your loved ones to the safest place possible.
Prepare for the Worst
The American Red Cross suggests that every household prepare a disaster supply kit for the home and another for the car. The kit should include food, water, necessary medications and a first-aid kit, among other things. For a complete list, visit redcross.org.
Keep your cell phone with you. It could be a lifeline should you need to call for help.
Safety Away From Home
You might not be home when dangerous weather occurs. If you find yourself in a car or outdoors, seek shelter immediately. If shelter is not available, lie flat on the ground and cover your head with your hands. A ditch might not be your best choice. While lower, a ditch tends to collect flying debris and rain water, making injury and even drowning a real possibility.
Experts also advise against huddling under a highway overpass. Storms can cause a wind-tunnel effect, making an underpass a dangerous retreat.