Today, for Severe Weather Preparedness Week, we have a guest post from Danny Neal, an Evergreen Park Firefighter/EMTand owner of Northern Illinois Storm Chaser, a science website/Facebook page and associated YouTube channel. Danny is an amateur meteorologist and storm chaser who many turn to for accurate weather conditions and safety advice and was asked to be the lead weather consultant for the ITU World Triathlon Chicago Race in July 2014 monitoring weather conditions. Danny also visits schools providing talks on severe weather. If you would like more information or to schedule a talk at your school, visit  

large tornado over the meadow (photo  elements compilation)

Illinois weather can change in an instant. From brutal cold and snowstorms to suffocating heat and tornadoes, it is important to be prepared for all facets of weather our great state can face. Wintry weather impacts our region for a quarter of the year and is the main reason for school cancellations statewide. Temperatures as low as -20°F and several inches of snow cause problems on a yearly basis. Being cognizant of the weather is important and will allow you to prepare your families for Mother Nature’s worst weather.

The risks don’t stop there! We transition right into spring, which means one thing, tornado season! Given the tornado tragedies at schools across our country, it is important that your family and school district has a plan in place if severe weather approaches. Tornadoes are not the only risk that spring weather brings. Lightning from thunderstorms should be taken seriously and should always be a consideration when sending your children outdoors during stormy weather.

As the school year closes, our weather warms and humidity increases. Children should be encouraged to take frequent breaks, wear sunscreen, and stay hydrated. Our weather is generally pleasant and not a second thought most days. Some safety tips below will allow you to remain prepared when noticeable weather occurs.

Tornado Safety Tips

  • Lowest level of the building, away from windows.
  • Protect yourself with blankets, mattress, and pillows
  • WEAR A HELMET – most deaths occur from flying debris
  • Have a kit prepared with flashlights, radio, cell phone, first aid
  • Do NOT panic

Lightning Safety Tips

  • Stay indoors during thunderstorms
  • 30 Minute/30 Second Rule – Stay indoors for 30 minutes after you don’t hear thunder anymore. If you see lightning and hear thunder within 30 seconds, you can still be struck!
  • Stay away from tall objects, metal, and water
  • Seek shelter in a car or building if caught outdoors

Winter Weather Safety Tips

  • Stay indoors during winter storms
  • Dress warm if going outdoors
  • Watch for icy sidewalks and driveways