Severe weather happens during all seasons in Central Illinois.
Be prepared for extreme weather events by making a family emergency plan.
By Bethany Parker
We’re leaving Winter 2.0 and heading straight into tornado season. All that warm air colliding with the lingering cool air is surrounding us with some serious potential trouble. Welcome, spring! What’s a parent to do? P-L-A-N, that’s what. You can’t prevent the emergency itself but you sure as heck can make sure you know what to do if it hits. Here are a few basics for emergency prepping your family in general, tornado and otherwise.
Here in the Midwest we seem to have it all – severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and floods. Keeping a battery operated weather radio handy is a must, and you can also sign up for weather alerts from local TV and radio stations as well as the Champaign County Emergency Management Agency website. Nothing beats the battery operated radio though; if a cell tower goes down, those cell phone alerts won’t be of any use.
During a severe weather warning, those of us in homes without a basement never seem to know where to take shelter. This link can help you find the best place in your home to spend those “W” hours whether you have a basement or not.
The Champaign County Emergency Management Agency website has a great list of resources for severe weather planning, including putting together an emergency kit with food, first aid and other supplies. You can find that, along with a wealth of other emergency planning information here.
In the event of a real weather emergency, communication can become a serious problem. Be sure you have a communication plan in place with family members, babysitters, day care providers, schools and places of employment. Check out ready.gov for some good information about setting up a simple emergency communication plan for your family, including tips like designating one member of the family outside of the action zone to do the majority of the calling and searching for family members so those affected by the emergency can focus on tasks other than phone calls and texts.
Teach your kids to respond to the smoke alarm when they hear it by running fire drills every time you set the thing off. No more ignoring that insistent beeping – treat it like they do at grade school and file out the door. Burned cookies? Evacuate the house. Aunt Bertha’s smoldering cigarette on the back porch set off the laundry room detector? Everybody out.
When your children are old enough, stage intentional drills (at really inconvenient times, they will love you for it, ask me how I know). Make sure everyone is able to exit through bedroom windows, climb down escape ladders, and that younger children can reach garage door openers and easily turn deadbolts and open sliding doors. Do it in the rain, the snow, barefoot, during mealtime, shower time, bedtime. The more you practice the more normal it will become so that if the unthinkable ever does happen, you’ll all be ready. Next time you see my three kids standing under my neighbor’s tree yelling “can we come back inside yet, Mom?” don’t be alarmed. It’s just our fire drill.