This might not be the heart of “Tornado Alley,” but our area is hardly immune to the kind of catastrophic events that struck Moore, Okla., this month.
The last time a tornado touched down in McHenry County was Jan. 7, 2008, in unincorporated Lawrence. Illinois is the site of multiple tornadoes every year, including last year, when the National Weather Service said that 30 tornadoes were observed, including one Feb. 29 that killed eight in southern Illinois.
Tornadoes in Illinois are most common from April through June, the weather service said. In other words, right now.
Tips for tornado preparedness include:
• Know where to take shelter in your home, school or workplace. Recommended shelter areas are in the basement under the stairwell, or interior closets or small rooms away from windows on the ground floor of the building.
• In a disaster, firefighters may not be available to help immediately. Be prepared to be self-sufficient for some period of time by putting together an emergency supply kit with first-aid supplies, food, water and other necessities.
• Plan for how you will get in touch with family members after a disaster. Designated meeting places are one way to do this.
• Weather radios that pick up National Weather Service broadcasts also are recommended.
This also is a good time for businesses, school officials and others to review their tornado response plans to ensure they can work as efficiently and safely as possible. And the tragedy also should be a reminder to us that those periodic tests of the emergency broadcast system or the local warning siren are more than just background noise.
As we saw this month, tornadoes can strike with little warning.
Although we all hope never to go through what residents in Moore are experiencing, it’s critical to remember that tornadoes happen here, too, and we must be prepared to act quickly if the time comes.