SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and local offices of emergency management are encouraging residents to stay aware of local forecasts and be prepared for severe weather. The National Weather Service says heat and humidity could fuel afternoon and evening thunderstorms, producing strong and dangerous winds. The forecast serves as a good reminder: when thunder roars, go indoors.


Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan allows businesses to resume operations with outdoor seating.  Many restaurants have erected tents to accommodate their customers and provide shade from the summer sun. However, it is important to remember that a tent is not an appropriate shelter during severe weather.


“Given the threat for severe weather, I urge all business owners to have an emergency action plan to keep customers safe,” said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “Make sure you have more than one way to receive emergency weather alerts and notifications, and take action in a timely manner to protect your customers and staff before weather strikes.”


Severe Weather Preparedness tips include:


KNOW THE TERMS: Familiarize yourself with important weather terms to stay alert and know when to take action to protect yourself and others.


• Severe Thunderstorm Watch – conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms containing large hail and damaging winds.


• Severe Thunderstorm Warning – large hail and/or damaging wind has been reported by spotters, or is about to develop. Take action - Go to a substantial shelter immediately.


• Tornado Watch – conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes.


• Tornado Warning – a tornado has been reported by spotters, or National Weather Service meteorologists have determined that one is about to form in the next several minutes. Take Action – go to a substantial shelter immediately.


IDENTIFY A SAFE PLACE: Before a storm strikes, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and identify a safe place to ride out a storm.  Preferably, somewhere indoors, and away from windows. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to a storm to be struck by lightning.  If you are outdoors, seek shelter immediately.


STAY INFORMED: This forecast is a good reminder that people should always have multiple ways to receive notifications and updated information about severe weather warnings, such as through a NOAA weather alert radio, Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), weather alert apps, TV and radio broadcasts, the Internet, outdoor warning sirens and more.


PREPARE YOUR FAMILY: Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect your area, and know how you will contact one another and reconnect if separated. Develop a family emergency plan and review it with all family members.  Visit www.Ready.Illinois.gov for step-by-step instructions on how to prepare for, survive and rebuild after any storm or emergency.


EMERGENCY KIT: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a few new items should be included in your emergency supply kit, including face coverings for every member of your family, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes.  Other items to include in a basic emergency supply kit are: water, food, NOAA weather radio, flashlight, batteries, phone charger, and prescription medications.  A complete list can be found online at www.ready.gov/kit. Simple instructions on how to make your own face covering can be found here.


IEMA offers severe weather preparedness information on the Ready Illinois website (www.Ready.Illinois.gov), a one-stop resource for detailed information about what to do before, during and after disasters. To help Illinois residents prepare for severe weather season, IEMA and the NWS developed a Severe Weather Preparedness Guide that covers flooding, severe weather terms and tips for staying safe.  The guide is available on the Ready Illinois website.