Each year, despite advance warnings, many people 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. The recent tragedy in Oklahoma is a stark reminder that severe weather knows no boundaries and affects all it encounters.
Sycamore Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Art Zern offers the following steps to prepare for severe weather:
• Know Your Risk: 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.
• Pledge and Take Action: Be a “Force of Nature” by taking the Pledge to Prepare at www.ready.gov/severe-weather. This includes a family communication plan you can fill out and email to yourself, details for putting together an emergency kit, consideration for keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place, and getting involved in planning.
• Obtain a NOAA weather radio. If your cell phone is equipped to receive wireless emergency alerts, sign up for local alerts. Stay informed by having multiple sources for weather alerts - NOAA weather radio, weather.gov and wireless emergency alerts. Subscribe to receive alerts at www.ready.gov/severe-weather.
• Be an Example: Once you have taken action, share your story with your family and friends to encourage them to be prepared as well.
Information on the different types of severe weather such as tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flooding is available at www.weather.gov and www.ready.gov/severe-weather, or at the Spanish-language website www.listo.gov.
Some communities are equipped with early warning sirens for severe weather. The sirens are intended to warn people out of doors about severe weather, and are not designed to be heard indoors. When inside, people are encouraged to use a weather radio or stay tuned to local media for weather reports.
Weather sirens are typically activated when city emergency officials have credible reason to believe a tornado may strike the area. Sirens will produce a continuous tone when activated. If you hear emergency sirens, take shelter immediately. There is no “all-clear” signal; use local media to determine when the danger has passed.