CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Central Illinois saw multiple weather events last week, including thunderstorms, tornadoes, and high wind warnings. Many were left feeling like they weren’t quite ready for severe weather this early in the year.

Champaign County Severe Weather Preparedness Week

The Champaign County Emergency Management Agency (CCEMA) and the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD) are here to help get people prepared. They are teaming up for Severe Weather Preparedness Week this week in Champaign County, offering tips and information on how to get prepared for severe weather.

While no one can prevent severe thunderstorms, lightning, or tornadoes from developing or happening, CCEMA and CUPHD said there are steps everyone can take to minimize the impacts of severe weather. The National Weather Service (NWS) suggests the following are daily topics of discussion during the week:

  • Monday: Have a plan
  • Tuesday: Tornadoes
  • Wednesday: Lightning
  • Thursday: Wind and hail
  • Friday: Flooding

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the NWS also developed a Severe Weather Preparedness Guide that provides information and facts about tornadoes, severe storms, lightning, and flooding. It also provides recommended actions to take before, during, and after each of these weather events. Some tips and facts from the guide include:

  • Have a communication plan among your family.
  • Practice your plan in case of severe weather.
  • Use pillows, mattresses, or cushions to protect your head and neck during a tornado.
  • Do NOT park under a bridge or overpass if you are driving during a tornado.
  • Most lightning deaths occur under or near trees and in open fields.
  • Avoid using a corded telephone or other electrical appliances until after a storm passes.
  • It is important to keep a stock of emergency supplies on hand that will be sufficient to meet your family’s needs for at least a three-day period.

IEMA Severe Weather Preparedness Month

In addition to Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Champaign County, IEMA has announced that March is Severe Weather Preparedness Month. In addition to the safety guide and other tips, IEMA reminds people that severe weather preparedness also includes gathering information and supplies to prepare for a loss of electricity or if you must, evacuate from your neighborhood. That’s why IEMA offers a Family Communications Plan to help people map locations to meet and track important contact information.

IEMA also recommends everyone to:

  • Keep all important records and documents in a secure waterproof container
  • Make an inventory of possessions using lists and photos/videos
  • Insure your property and possessions
  • Know how to shut off electricity, gas, and water
  • Compile an emergency kit and “go bag” to help your family for at least three days during extended power outages or evacuations
  • In case power is out, make sure flashlights with fresh batteries are ready
  • Generators should only be run outside, never indoors or in enclosed spaces 

For more information on severe weather preparedness, visit the Ready Illinois website. They have information on severe weather, winter weather, before and after a disaster, school safety, and more. The NWS, Lincoln also has a Severe Weather Safety web page here, which includes information on weather forecasts, past weather, radar, severe weather safety, and more. Preparedness tips and information are also available on the Ready Illinois Facebook Page.