With a heavy blanket of snow pack still on the ground throughout Chicagoland, making preparations for tornado season might be the last thing on your mind. But in addition to April Fools' Day, April 1 marks the beginning of the traditional Midwest tornado season.
According to the National Weather Service, 226 tornadoes were reported in April 2009, the second-highest monthly total for the year. In May 2009 the count was 201, and for June it was 270. But even in the month of March, 115 tornadoes were recorded.
Tornadoes form quickly with little warning, and are usually associated with severe weather disturbances such as thunderstorms and hail. But they have been known to form even under clear and peaceful weather conditions.
The best time to make preparations for the severe weather that spring always brings is right now. Here are 6 ways you can prepare your family and home for the inevitable foul winds, rain, and even tornadoes that will arrive sooner than you might think:
1. Weather Radio
Purchase and use a good-quality weather alert radio. These devices have been improved greatly in recent years, and offer enhanced information and convenience than older radios. The Midland WR100B is an excellent example of a high performance weather radio and is widely available from leading online stores.
2. Emergency Lighting
Power outages are common during bouts of severe weather. Instead of depending on candles or other combustibles for emergency lighting, flashlights and electric lanterns are safer and easier to use. Purchase and/or set aside several flashlights that are to be used only in emergencies, to ensure they aren't used for household tasks and come up missing when you need them most. Better yet, invest in a battery-powered florescent lantern such as the Coleman Family Size Rugged Lantern. Batteries for your flashlights and lantern should be replaced at least once per year; the unused batteries can be utilized in other devices around your home.
3. First Aid Kit
Every home should have a quality first aid kit stocked with fresh supplies that is reserved for emergency use. A separate kit should be used for day-to-day emergencies. The Johnson & Johnson "Large" kit is a good choice, and at less than $10 each, most every family can afford to keep two on hand. More comprehensive kits are available at higher prices and may be a worthwhile investment. Along with your first aid kit, be sure to store any essential medicines or medical supplies that are needed by any family member.
4. Emergency Food and Water
If severe weather does escalate into a localized natural disaster, transportation and commerce may be negatively impacted for several days. Maintaining a 3-day supply of food and water for each member of your family is a good practice, and can be relatively affordable. Use containers that are designed to store water, not improvised methods like reused milk jugs. Canned food can be used if portability is not a concern. But if evacuating your home is a possible scenario, consider adding Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) , freeze-dried camping type food, or survival bars to your emergency preparedness pantry.
5. Safe Shelter
Identify a safe location within your home that can accommodate all family members during periods of severe weather. A basement or other below grade location is best. It should be well away from any glass windows, mirrors, bookcases, etc. that could pose hazards. A spot against an inside wall is ideal, and space under sturdy furniture such as a heavy desk or table, offers greater protection.
6. Emergency Plan
Develop an emergency plan for your family so everyone understands what to do, where to go, and how to communicate in the event of common emergencies. Review the plan at least once per year and make adjustments as needed as your family and lifestyle changes.
About the author: George A. White is a state-licensed security professional based in the Chicago area. His passion for home safety and security has lead him to pursue training and certification in locksmithing; safe and vault installation and service; and alarm system installation and programming, including National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) certification. For more information or to receive a free home safety and security assessment, please contact George at email@example.com