Opinion

When the tornado siren sings, take it seriously

Thunderstorms attacked northern Illinois last weekend, brining with it torrential rains, dangerous lightning and whipping high-speed winds. In some areas, tornadoes hit. Not everyone responded the same way to the storms and weather alerts. Reporter Russell Lissau of the Daily Herald provides these tips for when storm alerts occur.

If you hear an outdoor warning siren, don’t ignore it — get indoors immediately.

That siren means something life-threatening is happening, the National Weather Service says. Whether it’s a tornado, strong wind, hail or another emergency depends on the agency that controls the sirens going off. Check with your community leaders for specific details.

Sirens are designed to alert people outside that something dangerous is approaching. For indoor alerts, keep a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio handy.

Sirens typically are activated by local agencies such as police or fire departments or municipal staffers. There are no national guidelines or standards for activation.

Outdoor warning sirens don’t sound every time a dangerous storm strikes. They are only one part of a warning system that also includes local media, according to the weather service.

Common sense is valuable, too. As a storm approaches, lightning alone is a reason to seek shelter, the service said.

Sirens do not give all-clear signals. They only warn of approaching danger.

Remember that in Illinois, outdoor warning sirens are tested at 10 a.m. on the first Tuesday of every month.

In a tornado watch:

• Tornadoes are possible in and near the area.

• Review your emergency plans and check supplies and your safe room.

• Be ready to act quickly if the National Weather Service issues a warning or you suspect a tornado is approaching.

In a tornado warning:

• A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.

• There is imminent danger to life and property.

• Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy shelter.

• Avoid windows.

• If you are in a mobile home, a vehicle or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and cover your head to avoid flying debris.

Source: weather.gov/media/owlie/3-fold-Safety-Tips-Tornado-Brochure-08-07-18-D-FINAL.pdf