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Our View: Take time to be prepared for severe weather

Published: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

Although there is snow in the forecast for Tuesday night, Monday gave us a glimpse into what spring will feel like when it’s sprung.

With spring comes the increase of severe weather, including the possibility of deadly tornadoes. Last year, Illinois saw 54 tornadoes that resulted in eight fatalities, 187 injuries and widespread destruction to more than 2,000 homes, businesses and public property.

According to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Illinois ranks fifth in the U.S. for the most tornadoes per square mile. The majority of Illinois tornadoes occur between April 1 and June 30 between the hours of 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. Nearly 30 percent of all tornadoes in Illinois occur after dark, and there is an average of 47 tornadoes per year in Illinois.

In anticipation of severe weather, Gov. Pat Quinn has declared March Severe Weather Preparedness Month in Illinois. Tips for tornado preparedness include:

• Knowing 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.

• Planning 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 month 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.

Spring eventually will arrive in McHenry County. When it does, be prepared to enjoy it. But also be ready for the severe weather it can bring.

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