As summer begins, the potential for severe storms and tornados becomes more common. Whether you live in a house or a high-rise, it is important to make a decision about where you and your family should seek shelter in severe weather. The National Weather Service (NWS) in Chicago has several tips on how to stay safe during an emergency weather situation.
1. Create a plan ahead of time where your family will seek shelter when a tornado warning is issued.
2. If you are living in a high-rise building, you do not have to get into a basement if there is limited time before the tornado reaches your location. Identify a small interior room in order to maximize the number of walls and minimize the number of windows between you and the outside.
3. Get under a heavy table or work bench if a small interior room is not available to you.
4. Go underneath a stairwell if there are no other safe options. The stairwell provides stability and concrete walls as protection.
5. Avoid long corridors with windows and large openings. If the walls and roof are taken out by extreme winds, it will collapse and the broken glass will fly down the corridors.
6. Do not open windows as it will give wind a way into the building.
7. If you are in a location with a lot of glass, find something, whether a piece of clothing or firm object to cover your head.
8. Crouch as low as possible to avoid debris from hitting you.
9. Bring a flashlight in case the power goes out.
10. Do not rely on sirens. They are directed to those outdoors and if the wind is blowing in the opposite direction, the sound waves won’t get to you. A weather radio can notify you in the event of a tornado as well as wireless emergency alerts on your phone. Having multiple ways to get warnings is helpful in case power is lost.
According to meteorologist Jamie Enderlen at the NWS Chicago, there are 13 minutes between when the NWS issues a warning and when a tornado hits. Execute your plan into action immediately and seek safety as soon as a warning is issued.