Preparing for and Surviving a Tornado

This spring has seen a significant number of tornadoes across Illinois and the country. Today’s guest post comes from Ready.gov on how to prepare for, survive, and recover from a tornado.

Tornadoes can destroy buildings, flip cars, and create deadly flying debris. Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air that extend from a thunderstorm to the ground. Tornadoes can:

  • Happen anytime and anywhere;
  • Bring intense winds, over 200 MPH; and
  • Look like funnels.

IF YOU ARE UNDER A TORNADO WARNING, FIND SAFE SHELTER RIGHT AWAY

  • If you can safely get to a sturdy building, then do so immediately.
  • Go to a safe room, basement, or storm cellar.
  • If you are in a building with no basement, then get to a small interior room on the lowest level.
  • Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls.
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You’re safer in a low, flat location.
  • Watch out for flying debris that can cause injury or death.
  • Use your arms to protect your head and neck.

HOW TO STAY SAFE WHEN A TORNADO THREATENS

Prepare NOW

  • Know your area’s tornado risk. In the U.S., the Midwest and the Southeast have a greater risk for tornadoes. [Note: Illinois averages 64 tornadoes per year.]
  • Know the signs of a tornado, including a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud; an approaching cloud of debris; or a loud roar—similar to a freight train.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts. If your community has sirens, then become familiar with the warning tone.
  • Pay attention to weather reports. Meteorologists can predict when conditions might be right for a tornado.
  • Identify and practice going to a safe shelter in the event of high winds, such as a safe room built using FEMA criteria or a storm shelter built to ICC 500 standards. The next best protection is a small, interior, windowless room on the lowest level of a sturdy building.
  • Consider constructing your own safe room that meets FEMA or ICC 500 standards.

Survive DURING

  • Immediately go to a safe location that you identified.
  • Take additional cover by shielding your head and neck with your arms and putting materials such as furniture and blankets around you.
  • Listen to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions.
  • Do not try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle.
  • If you are in a car or outdoors and cannot get to a building, cover your head and neck with your arms and cover your body with a coat or blanket, if possible.

Be Safe AFTER

  • Keep listening to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, and local authorities for updated information.
  • If you are trapped, cover your mouth with a cloth or mask to avoid breathing dust. Try to send a text, bang on a pipe or wall, or use a whistle instead of shouting.
  • Stay clear of fallen power lines or broken utility lines.
  • Do not enter damaged buildings until you are told that they are safe.
  • Save your phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Use text messaging or social media to communicate with family and friends.
  • Be careful during clean-up. Wear thick-soled shoes, long pants, and work gloves.

12 Bullying Myths

Bullying at school is nothing new, but a lot of what we think we know about isn’t necessarily true. Great Schools has put together a list of 12 myths about bullying along with the facts that bust those myths. Those myths are:

  1. You’ll know when your child is being bullied.
  2. Bullying is always physical.
  3. The bully is always bigger.
  4. Fighting back works./Fighting back doesn’t work.
  5. Bullies are the most popular kids.
  6. Parents have nothing to do with their kids bullying.
  7. If your child is a victim, call the bully’s parents.
  8. Boys are more likely to be bullied.
  9. Cyberbullying is the gateway to other bullying.
  10. Parents are always their kids’ best defender.
  11. Homophobic taunts refer to the victim’s sexual orientation.
  12. Schools aren’t responsible for bullying.

Children need safe and supportive schools to be successful, and stopping bullying is part of providing that for them. Read the full article to learn why each of these 12 myths are not true, then check out StopBullying.gov for more information and consider having your PTA implement the National PTA Connect for Respect program.

Graphic courtesy of US Air Force/Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter.

Top 10 Water Safety Tips

With warmer weather finally here, many people are heading outdoors. If your outdoor plans include being around water, whether swimming, fishing, or boating, be sure to follow these top ten water safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You can find these and other information on how to be safe around water on the CDC website.

  1. DO learn to swim.If you like to have a good time doing water activities, being a strong swimmer is a must.
  2. DO take a friend along.Even though you may be a good swimmer, you never know when you may need help. Having friends around is safer and just more fun!
  3. DO know your limits.Watch out for the “too’s”—too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much hard activity.
  4. DO swim in supervised (watched) areas only,and follow all signs and warnings.
  5. DO wear a life jacket when boating, jet skiing, water skiing, rafting, or fishing.
  6. DO stay alert to currents.They can change quickly! If you get caught in a strong current, don’t fight it. Swim parallel to the shore until you have passed through it. Near piers, jetties (lines of big rocks), small dams, and docks, the current gets unpredictable and could knock you around. If you find it hard to move around, head to shore. Learn to recognize and watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents — water that is a weird color, really choppy, foamy, or filled with pieces of stuff.
  7. DO keep an eye on the weather.If you spot bad weather (dark clouds, lighting), pack up and take the fun inside.
  8. DON’T mess around in the water.Pushing or dunking your friends can get easily out of hand.
  9. DON’T dive into shallow water.If you don’t know how deep the water is, don’t dive.
  10. DON’T float where you can’t swim.Keep checking to see if the water is too deep, or if you are too far away from the shore or the poolside.

Photo © 2016 by Roman Boed under Creative Commons license.

Help with 5 Tough Questions About Teens, Alcohol, and Drugs

With marijuana legalization legislation pending in the General Assembly, families may need to have more discussions about its use. While the proposed legislation would legalize marijuana for those over 21, Illinois PTA continues to follow the bill regarding parts that may affect those under 21, including drug education requirements, protections to prevent sales to those under 21, and expungement of criminal records of those convicted of possession.

Great Schools! published an article answering five tough questions about teens, alcohol, and drugs. While many parents know the basic facts to convey to their child about these issues, there are several nuances that parents may struggle with how to address:

  1. Does talking to my child about drugs or alcohol get them thinking about something they’re otherwise oblivious to?
  2. Should I offer a safe ride home no matter what?
  3. Should I share my own history?
  4. Should my kid learn about drinking at home?
  5. How can I tell if my kid is smoking pot?

The article answers each of these difficult questions with help from experts, and these are important discussions to have with your child. As Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) notes, one in five teens binge drink, but only one in 100 parents think it’s happening.