Tornado season: Preparing for a natural disaster

What to do before,during, and after an Illinois tornado


As we are thrust into the middle of April, one fact is glaringly clear: Tornado season is upon us. According to the Farmers’ Almanac, tornado season occurs as spring dies and summer begins. Roughly, the season goes from March to early July, though tornados can occur at any point in the year.

Recently, a band of tornados hit northern Illinois. Towns such as Fairdale, Hillcrest, and Rochelle were devastated, according to ABC News. The Huffington Post reports that two people were killed and several others were taken to hospitals to be treated for injuries.

Unfortunately, tornados are nothing new, especially for the state of Illinois. CBS Chicago provides an account of some of the deadliest tornados in the state’s history. For example, the 1960s were the years of the deadliest tornados. Within the span of a decade, 70 people in Illinois died from them.

At this time, there are no known methods to prevent these disasters, so the most practical approach is to know when a tornado is near and how to protect yourself from its power. The Red Cross offers useful tips for before, during, and after a tornado.

The first important information to know is the warning signs. The Red Cross lists dark, greenish clouds, wall clouds, clouds of debris, large hail, funnel clouds, and roaring noises as indicators of possible tornadic activity.

If any of these signs are observed, the Red Cross urges individuals to tune into radio or TV programming that will have weather information.

Individuals are encouraged to have an evacuation plan and an emergency kit with necessary items such as food, water, batteries, flashlights, blankets, clothing, a battery-powered radio, a first-aid kit, and any other vital items.

If a tornado is occurring, individuals should take shelter in a basement or an interior room without windows. If traveling or caught outside, individuals should take shelter in their cars and try to drive to the nearest sturdy building for shelter.

The Red Cross emphasizes that mobile homes are not safe in these situations. Those that live in mobile homes should find shelter in their cars and drive to the nearest sturdy building.

After the tornado, the Red Cross instructs individuals to stay tuned to local radio stations for news updates. If authorities deem it safe, they may return to their homes or come out of their sheltered areas.

The Red Cross recommends that individuals let their loved ones know they are safe. If you are able, help others in need, whether they are elderly, injured, disabled, children, pets, or a large family.

Because UIS is located in an area that has had its share of tornados, procedures are devised to ensure safety. These procedures are important for all students to be aware of, but especially those who come from areas that experience little to no tornado activity and don’t know what to expect from them.

Nia Galloway, RA on Founders Hall’s first floor, explains the steps the university takes to ensure safety of all students.

“Several times a year RAs have in-services about emergency procedures. Topics such as fires and natural disasters are just two of the many topics discussed in those in-services. For tornados in particular, residence hall and townhouse residence are instructed to go to first floor bathrooms.”