Peoria, Ill. (WMBD) — Many of us know where to go in the event a Tornado Warning is issued, but do you know where to go if you’re at work or school? How will communicate and reunite with you loved ones in the event that cell phone service is cut off during a severe weather outbreak?

These are things to consider now before severe weather is even in the forecast.

  1. How will you receive life saving weather alerts and warnings?
    • It’s important to have multiple ways to receive warnings and information. You can checkout this article about the different ways the National Weather Service and Your Local Weather Authority can keep you covered.
  2. Where will you seek shelter?
    • Whether you’re at home, school or work you need to know where to shelter in the event severe weather strikes.
    • The safest place to be is on the lowest floor and in an interior room with no windows or external walls. For those without basements, these are often bathrooms and closets on the first floor of the building.
    • For those who live in mobile or modular homes, you need to seek shelter in a more sturdy building.
      • In these situations you may need to act sooner and get to a shelter before a warning is issued. Be sure to monitor the radar and updates closely so you have enough time to get to your shelter.
    • Consider placing bike helmets and closed toe shoes in your shelter to protect yourself from falling debris.
    • Large open rooms such as cafeterias and gyms are NOT safe places to be during severe storms.
    • If you are outdoors you need to get a sturdier shelter. Even if a storm is not severe, you should still move in doors until the storm passes.
    • If you are driving pull over and seek shelter in a sturdy building.
      • If you see a tornado and don’t have time to shelter in a sturdy building, drive at a 45° angle away from the direction the storm is moving. As a last ditch effort, pull your vehicle to the side of the road and lie down in a ditch with while covering your head.
  3. How will you communicate with your family?
    • It’s not unusual for cell phone service to go down or for calls to not go through during severe weather events. Make sure you have other ways to reach your family.
  4. Set up emergency meeting places
    • In your neighborhood
      • If you are separated from the members of your household during an emergency such as a fire, this could be a place to meet.
    • Outside of your neighborhood
      • In the event of a natural disaster that destroys your a portion of your community, set up multiple meeting places outside of your neighborhood to reunite with your family. Libraries, community centers, places of worship or the homes of family and friends are often good places to go.
  5. What is your evacuation route?
    • While large scale evacuations are not common in Central Illinois, certain situations such as damn breaks or even wildfires could trigger the need for one. Make sure you have multiple routes to evacuate if officials require one.
  6. Do you need to update your emergency kit?

As you prepare your plan you need to make sure the plan is tailored to your everyday needs. Keep in mind some of these factors when you develop your plan:

  • Different ages of the members in your family
  • Locations frequented
  • Dietary needs
  • Medical needs (prescriptions and equipment)
  • Disabilities of family members and their functional needs
  • Cultural and religious considerations
  • Pets and service animals

FEMA has a great checklist for you to use while building your plan. You can download that pdf file here.