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Oliver: Tis the season to be ready for risk of severe weather

Joan Oliver
Joan Oliver

The recent tornadoes that struck the Nashville area were a stark reminder of the devastating power of nature.

The storm last Tuesday that left at least 24 people dead as it struck in neighborhoods around Nashville might have gotten lost amid the news of the Super Tuesday voting around the nation and the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19.

Still, tornadoes are something that historically have affected us here in McHenry County. And now that we’re rounding the weather corner into spring, it’s all the more reason to pay attention.

So with that in mind, let’s remember that March is Severe Weather Preparedness Month and get ourselves ready for whatever might lie ahead.

A lot of information about getting prepared is available on the McHenry County Emergency Management’s website at McHenryAware.com. There you’ll find information how to get text alerts, how to use the county’s 211 system and help for putting together an emergency kit. There’s even a link to an app you can get on your phone to get local information in case of an emergency. The free McHenry County EMA app is available to download on Google Play and the App Store.

The National Weather Service (www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/safety.html) also offers these helpful tips:

At home, practice a family tornado drill at least once a year.

Store protective coverings (mattress, sleeping bags, heavy blankets, etc.) in or next to your shelter space.

Avoid windows.

Get in the basement or under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench) or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag.

Know where very heavy objects (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) rest on the floor above and do not go under them.

If you do not have a basement, go to the lowest floor and into an interior room. A closet or a bathroom is recommended.

If you’re in a vehicle, remember that they are easily tossed and destroyed by tornadoes. Take shelter in a sturdy building. If that’s not possible, lie flat in a low spot or ditch as far from the road as possible to avoid flying vehicles. Do not park under a bridge or underpass.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests that families have enough food, water and supplies on hand to go for at least 72 hours.

A number of websites provide useful information about how to build a “go kit”:

FEMA: ready.gov

American Red Cross: redcross.org

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: noaa.gov

The information on ready.gov also should come in handy in preparing for a possible local outbreak of the coronavirus. They’ve added a link to helpful information for keeping your family safe from that threat.

Historically, most of the tornadoes in Illinois occur from March to June. However, we all know they can happen at any time. And from the looks of it, we’re going to be hearing about the threat of the coronavirus for a while yet as well.

So it’s always better to be ready … just in case.

• Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at jolivercolumn@gmail.com.

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