Tornado season begins anew every spring in Illinois, as do the reminders to homeowners to prepare against them.
In 2012, Illinois saw eight tornado-related fatalities and 111 tornado-related injuries, due primarily to the devastating early-in-the-season tornado that hit Harrisburg at the end of last February.
With tornadoes in Illinois typically peaking between April and June, now is a good time for homeowners to prepare themselves. And that includes urban and suburban homeowners too; the Chicago metropolitan area is not immune to tornadoes, says Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel, especially in the western and southern parts.
According to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), tornado preparedness begins with having a Family Emergency Plan. The IEMA advises the following:
- Establish the best place in your home to seek shelter, preferably in a basement or a cellar. If underground protection isn’t available, choose a hallway or room on the lowest level, as far as possible away from windows. If nothing else, take shelter under a sturdy piece of furniture.
- Ensure that every member of a household knows the address of two locations to meet (one near the home, one outside the neighborhood).
- Create disaster kits for your home, vehicle and work (most tornadoes in Illinois occur in the afternoon and early evening). Kits should contain a three-day supply of non-perishable food, a first-aid kit and more. A full list of recommended disaster kit items is available at illinois.gov.
- Have copies of important documents kept off-site in a secure location, including birth certificates, deeds, insurance information and driver’s licenses.
- During the storm, listen to a battery-powered weather radio or local radio or TV station. Angel suggests that smartphone users sign up for text-messaging weather services that can warn you about tornado watches and warnings in your area.
After a tornado and the threat of danger has passed, get in touch with your property insurer as soon as possible to begin to assess any potential damage to your home. A home inventory (a detailed list of all your possessions) can help streamline things should you ever need to make a claim. You can make a manual list, or use a home inventory app on your phone, which can speed up the process, help you physically document your things with photos and videos, and can even store the inventory and keep it safe from an event that would likely spur a claim.
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