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Severe Weather can be a frightening and dangerous experience, and citizens should take steps to help them be prepared in case of a major weather event. Because severe weather can occur very quickly and sometimes seemingly out of nowhere, it is important to take steps to be prepared ahead of time. It is important to think about and talk to household members about potential safety measures, such as safe shelter locations and emergency evacuation plans in case of severe weather events, such as hail storms, dangerous winds, flash floods, tornadoes, blizzards, etc.
Think about storing several days’ worth of water and non-perishable food in a safe, dry place. Account for any pets you might have and make sure to have food and water on hand for them as well. For more information on putting together emergency kits, you can visit the American Red Cross website or search online for suggestions.
Another major consideration when considering severe weather is how to get warnings and information about the event itself. The City of Palos Heights has 4 mechanical sirens mounted at various spots in town to serve as an outdoor warning system, but you may not be able to hear them when you are inside. Factors such as weather conditions, other noise, time of year, trees, etc. can all impact your ability to hear the warning sirens. Because of this, they should not be relied on as your only means of warning that a tornado or severe weather may be coming.
The Palos Heights Police Department recommends that residents equip themselves with multiple, complimentary methods of receiving alerts. Cell phone apps and notifications, weather radios, TV and radio warnings are all possible ways of receiving alerts.
In addition we encourage all residents to sign up for CodeRED, which is a type of reverse 911 service that can be used by the City and the Police Department to put out information to a registered cell phone or landline phone number. Information and a link to sign up for CodeRED can be found on our website (https://palosheights.org/197/CodeRED). If you need assistance getting registered with CodeRED, please come into the Police Department and we can assist you.
Most importantly, we encourage citizens to be safe in the face of severe weather. Take a conservative approach of better safe than sorry. Prepare a plan and collect supplies before bad weather strikes.
For more information on various warning systems and information sources, visit the National Weather Service website. The following is information directly from their site ) regarding weather warning systems:
Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms can develop quickly, so an important component of a severe weather plan is a reliable warning system. Warnings are disseminated through outdoor warning sirens, local television and radio stations, cable television systems, cell phone apps, and NOAA weather radio. Find out how all these systems work and which are available to you.
Public Warning Sirens are used in many towns to warn people of tornadoes. However, rural areas and smaller towns do not have them. If your community does have sirens, find out how they are used and if you can hear them. Remember, even if a siren is nearby, they are intended as an outdoor warning system. You may not be able to hear it inside your house. When you hear sirens, do not call 911 to ask what is happening; instead, listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or TV for the warning information.
Most local radio and television stations broadcast storm warnings. Cable television systems will also have warning information, sometimes on a designated channel. However, satellite television stations do not provide local warnings unless you are watching a local station.
Many smartphone apps are available to provide warning notification. One particular service is the free Wireless Emergency Alerts provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The warnings are broadcast from cell towers in the vicinity of the tornado and flash flood, so you will receive them if you are near the hazard.
A NOAA Weather Radio receiver will sound an alarm to alert you when a storm warning is issued. It may be the only way you will learn of an impending storm; especially if you’re asleep, outdoors, or the electricity is off. The receivers needed to receive the alarm are available at electronics stores. Most models can operate on batteries; some are programmable to alert only for a single county or a portion of a county. People who cannot receive a strong signal inside their building may need to use an external antenna.