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Our View: Be prepared for tornadoes

Published: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

In the span of 10 days, McHenry County has experienced two tornado scares.

On June 22, a severe storm with the ability to form tornadoes tore through the north central part of the county, leaving thousands of residents without power and debris and tree branches strewn about. No funnel cloud touchdowns were confirmed.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning during that storm, just as it did early Monday morning when another severe storm traversed through the central part of the county. Funnel cloud sightings were reported in the Marengo and Woodstock areas, but there have been no confirmed touchdowns.

The majority of Illinois tornadoes occur between April 1 and June 30 between the hours of 3 p.m. and 10 p.m., so we have just passed that optimum tornado timeframe. Nearly 30 percent of all tornadoes in Illinois occur after dark, and there is an average of 47 tornadoes per year in Illinois.

Last year, Illinois saw 54 tornadoes that resulted in eight fatalities, 187 injuries and widespread destruction to more than 2,000 homes, businesses and public property.

According to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Illinois ranks fifth in the U.S. for the most tornadoes per square mile. Tips for tornado preparedness include:

• Knowing where to take shelter in your home, school or workplace. Recommended shelter areas are in the basement under the stairwell, or interior closets or small rooms away from windows on the ground floor of the building.

• In a disaster, firefighters may not be available to help immediately. Be prepared to be self-sufficient for some period of time by putting together an emergency supply kit with first-aid supplies, food, water and other necessities.

• Planning for how you will get in touch with family members after a disaster. Designated meeting places are one way to do this.

• Weather radios that pick up National Weather Service broadcasts also are recommended.

This also is a good time for businesses and others to review their tornado response plans to ensure they can work as efficiently and safely as possible.

Tornadoes can be deadly. Be as prepared as possible to keep yourself and your family safe.

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