- Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Sean Madison, director of Kane County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Management. For more information or to offer your services as a volunteer, reach out to the Kane County OEM at KaneCountyEOC@countyofkane.org or 630-232-5985.
With spring fast approaching, are you ready for severe weather?
Yes, you might have an extra flashlight in the basement, but when was the last time you checked the batteries? Sure, you’ve gotten tornado and flash flood warnings on your cell phone, but what if your cell phone network is down? Do you have a backup method of receiving emergency alerts?
Because March is Severe Weather Preparedness month in Illinois, the Kane County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Management is sharing some important tips for how you and your family can best prepare for severe weather.
“Of course, it is impossible to predict exactly when or where severe weather will occur and if or how much damage it will cause.” Kane County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Management Sean Madison said. “But if you take simple steps to be prepared, the impact on you and your family can be significantly reduced.”
Here are some steps you can take to make sure that you and your family are ready for severe weather season:
Have Multiple Ways to Receive Severe Weather Messages
All major cell phone providers participate in the Wireless Emergency Alerts system, which allows your cell phone to receive alerts such as tornado warnings, flash flood warnings, AMBER alerts, and other urgent public safety messages.
Make sure that “Emergency Alerts” and “Public Safety Alerts” are enabled in your phone’s notification settings.
However, you cannot rely ONLY on your phone to alert you about these types of emergencies. This is where emergency weather radios come in. These radios can be set up to remain silent until a severe weather warning is sent by the National Weather Service.
Just like smoke detectors, these radios can alert you to an imminent life threatening situation. Severe weather radios can be purchased from most home improvement stores or ordered online.
Designate an Emergency Shelter Location
During tornado warnings, and even severe thunderstorm warnings, it is important to go to an internal room on the lowest level of your home. This should be away from all windows, and not be on an outside wall, if possible.
Make Sure You Have an Emergency Kit
Having all the right supplies in the right place is very important. If you have a flashlight in your bedroom on the second floor, this may not be very helpful if the power goes out while you are in your basement during a tornado warning.
Make sure you have a bag or bin with essentials in your emergency shelter location. www.Ready.gov/kit is a great resource to get you started in building your emergency kit.
Know the Right Terminology
Do you know the difference between a weather watch and a weather warning? Watches mean that weather conditions are favorable for that type of weather to occur. Warnings means that type of weather is highly likely to occur imminently or is actively occurring.
So, if you see that Kane County is under a tornado watch, you should make sure your emergency kit is stocked and you have multiple ways to receive future alerts, if the situation escalates and a warning is issued. If you see that a tornado warning has been issued for your area, you should seek shelter immediately.
If you have any questions about how you and your family can best prepare for severe weather or any other emergencies, feel free to reach out to the Kane County OEM at KaneCountyEOC@countyofkane.org or 630-232-5985.
If you are interested in volunteering with Kane County OEM to play an active role in emergency/disaster response and recovery, reach out using the above contact info or visit www.kcoem.org for more information.
Severe Weather Preparedness Week
The National Weather Service will be recognizing Severe Weather Preparedness Week during the week of March 1 through March 5. During this week, Illinoisans are encouraged to:
- Make a severe weather preparedness plan.
- Build an emergency preparedness kit.
- Identify your safe place to during a storm.
- Familiarize yourself the various weather watches/warnings/advisories.
Feature Photo Caption
SPRINGFIELD, IL – In Illinois, on any given week we could see blue skies, thunderstorms and torrential rainfall. The changing weather is second nature to many of us, but as the calendar flips from winter to spring, it is important to not become complacent about severe weather threats that exist in our state. As part of Severe Weather Preparedness Month, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) have teamed up to publish a Severe Weather Preparedness Guide to help Illinoisans be better prepared when severe weather strikes.
“Making people aware of weather hazards and how to prepare for them, is just step one. Using the information and applying protective measures in an emergency takes practice. This month, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is encouraging families, businesses, schools and communities to build a kit, practice your plan and be better prepared,” said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau.
The National Weather Service will be recognizing Severe Weather Preparedness Week during the week of March 1-5. During this week, Illinoisans are encouraged to:
The National Weather Service (NWS) is responsible for issuing severe weather watches, warnings and advisories to alert the public when dangerous weather conditions are expected. Educating yourself and your family about these various terms, and the associated protective measures, can help keep you and your family safe. This year, the NWS added two new terms to this Severe Weather Preparedness Guide: Tornado Emergency and Flash Flood Emergency.
“It is so important to know the difference between a watch and warning when it comes to tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and floods.” said Chris Miller with the National Weather Service in Lincoln, Illinois. “In rare situations, an emergency can be issued for tornadoes and flash floods. This is when a confirmed, violent tornado or significant flood creates an imminent danger to life and property. Act immediately to save your life.”
Thunderstorms can produce damaging winds, deadly lightning, large hail, flash flooding and tornadoes. On average, Illinois will see 53 tornadoes each year with nearly 20-percent occurring at night. For a number of reasons, tornadoes that occur at night are twice as likely to result in fatalities.
The National Weather Service and state and local emergency management officials strongly encourage people to have a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) All Hazards Weather Radio with battery backup. These radios can be programmed to receive alerts for specified counties to keep you and your family apprised of impending weather and post-event information for all types of hazards including natural (earthquakes), environmental (chemical spills) and public safety hazards (AMBER alerts). When an alert is issued for the programmed area, the device will sound a warning alarm tone followed by the essential information.
“The information provided in these alerts will guide you through the appropriate protective measures. Watches mean that severe weather or flooding might develop near your area over the next several hours. Be ready to act if storms approach. When a warning is issued, a storm has a history of producing damage or flooding, or is expected to develop in your area shortly. We are warning you to take action immediately,” said Miller.
In this day and age of families constantly on the go, it is also critical for people to have multiple ways to receive notifications and updated information about severe weather warnings. FEMA offers a FREE mobile app that provides fast and reliable weather alerts from the National Weather Service (NWS). The app can be tailored to offer alerts for up to five different locations nationwide. The mobile app can also help you locate open shelters and disaster resource centers near you in the event of an emergency.
In addition to NOAA weather radios, Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) can provide lifesaving information about impending storms and emergencies. These alerts can be sent to your mobile device without the need to download an app or subscribe to a service. Not only are these tools critical to surviving overnight storms, but they can be extremely beneficial for those who travel.
For more information about what to do before, during and after a storm, please visit www.Ready.Illinois.gov.