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Preparedness Messages


There are a number of severe weather hazards that affect Illinois, including thunderstorms, tornadoes, lightning, floods and flash floods, damaging winds and large hail. Severe weather hazards can cause extensive property damage, injury or death.

With the potential for severe thunderstorms in the Spring and Summer months, it is important to educate you and your families about the dangers of lightning.


  • Severe Thunderstorm can produce tornadoes, damaging winds, lightning, hail or heavy rain
  • High wind from straight-line winds and downbursts can cause more damage than nearly 70% of the tornadoes that occur in Illinois.
  • Most lightning deaths occur under or near trees and in open fields.


  • By becoming familiar with and implementing the following recommended actions, you and your family will be better protected in the event of thunderstorms, tornadoes and flooding.


  • Know the terms used to describe severe thunderstorm threats:
    • Severe Thunderstorm Watch -- Severe thunderstorms are possible. Watch the sky and listen to the radio or television for more information. Be prepared to take shelter.
    • Severe Thunderstorm Warning -- Severe thunderstorms will be approaching or are occurring. Severe thunderstorms produce damaging wind in excess of 60 mph and/or hail one inch in diameter or larger. Seek safe shelter. Turn on a battery-operated radio or television to receive warnings and severe weather statements.
  • Purchase a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Alert Radio with a battery backup, a tone-alert feature, and Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) technology which automatically alerts you when a Watch or Warning is issued for your county.
  • Know the county(s) in which you live and work. The National Weather Service uses county names when watches, warnings and advisories are issued and broadcast. SAME Weather Alert Radios can be programmed to alarm only for a specific county or group of adjacent counties.
  • Check the weather forecast before leaving for extended outdoor periods and postpone plans if severe weather is imminent.
  • Wind gusts from severe thunderstorms can do as much or more damage than many tornadoes! Extended power outages, downed trees and extensive damage to roofs, doors and windows can all occur from straight line wind gusts and downbursts of wind.
  • Choose a friend or family member who lives out of the area for separated family members to call to report their whereabouts and condition.
  • Keep important documents and records in a safe deposit box or other secure location.
  • Maintain a disaster supply kit. Recommended items to keep in the disaster supply kit are listed on the last page. This kit will help your family cope during extended power outages in the aftermath of a storm.



  • Stay away from all windows and doors during the storm. If you can do it safely, draw the shades or blinds to reduce the risk from flying glass if it breaks due to high winds.
  • Monitor the radio or television for the latest weather information.
  • If outdoors, seek shelter IMMEDIATELY! If you can hear thunder, you are probably close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning.
  • If you are in a boat when a thunderstorm threatens, you should attempt to reach shore as quickly as possible.
  • If you are driving, pull safely to the shoulder away from trees and power lines. Lightning can flash from trees or power poles and strike a vehicle. The rubber tires do NOT keep lightning from striking a vehicle. Normally, in the open, a vehicle is a safe shelter from lightning. Avoid touching metal parts of the vehicle when lightning is nearby.
  • If you find yourself in a position where there is no immediate shelter available, find a low spot away from trees and power poles.



  • Monitor the radio or television for emergency information or instructions.
  • Check for injured victims. Render first aid if necessary.
  • Most lightning strike victims can be revived with CPR. Do not attempt to move severely injured victims unless absolutely necessary. Wait for emergency medical assistance to arrive.
  • Take photos or video of any damage to your home or property, and report it to local emergency managers.
  • Do not make unnecessary telephone calls.
  • If driving, be alert for hazards on the roadway.
  • Check on neighbors or relatives who may require special assistance.

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