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.

Summer Food Programs Help Fight Child Hunger

As school lets out for the summer, families’ thoughts turn to vacations, outdoor activities, and picnics, but for some, there is also thoughts of how to feed their family. For those families taking part in the free and reduced lunch program, the end of the school year means the end of the ten meals per week that their child had at school. Summer food programs can help fill that need.

More than 1,000 summer meal sites are available in Illinois this summer, funded through the US Department of Agriculture and administered by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Some are specific to children signed up for a summer program, while others are open to all children under 18. Despite the large number of participating sites across the state, 33 Illinois counties have no summer meal sites.

Your PTA can help spread the word on summer meal sites by sharing information with families from the Summer Feeding Illinois website. There you will find information videos, resources, and more about the program. Families can also find a summer meals site near them by:

Share these resources with your families. No child should go hungry in Illinois this summer.

 

Helping Your Child Improve Their Messy Handwriting

Children are expected to have messy handwriting when they’re starting out, but if your child is struggling with their handwriting skills when most of their classmates seem to have it mastered, it can harm their self-esteem and motivation to do well in school. If your child is struggling with handwriting, Understood has a couple of articles to help you help your child master this critical skill (botharticles are available in Spanish as well).

The first article details how you can help your child at home with their handwriting skills. Start by watching your child when they are writing to see if there are any obvious issues—is their hand tiring or are they having trouble holding their pencil correctly? Talk to your child’s teacher as well to see if what you saw at home is also happening in the classroom. The teacher may also have some suggestions for how you can help at home. Other suggestions from the article include:

The article also includes suggestions on how your child’s school can help as well.

The second article focuses on the specific ways that children may be struggling to write neatly. It details things to look for when your child is writing and how those struggles may show up in what they are putting down on paper. The article also covers the reasons your child may be struggling with their handwriting as well, including their age and developmental status, issues with motor skills, learning disabilities, and even simply being impulsive and rushing through their school work.

It is also important to reassure your child that learning handwriting is a complicated skill, but that it is a skill that can be learned and they can improve. Check out the two articles for more information.

Helping Your Child Get Organized

At times, parenthood feels like an endless battle against chaos. From messy rooms to backpacks stuffed with papers, our children sometimes appear to have never heard the words “neat” or “tidy.” When that chaos is resulting in missed assignments, forgotten lunches, and lost homework, it can be difficult to help them get organized. An article from the Child Mind Institute has some suggestions to help you teach your child these essential skills.

Whether your child has ADHD,executive functioning issues, or simply has never been taught how to get organized, it’s not enough to tell them to try harder. Getting organized requires doing things differently and developing new habits. Organization practices aren’t a “do it this way” solution, but a “find out what works for you.” That means some trial and error, some setbacks, and some persistence is needed to help your child get organized.

Remember that getting organized is a process, not a formula, so be prepared to them learn from the approaches that fail, discover the things that could be improved, and continue to do the things that worked. Other suggestions from the article include:

  • Identify weak spots
  • Use tools
  • Don’t get bogged down in planning
  • What actually works is better than what is supposed to work
  • Sustainability is key
  • Stop beating yourself up and start moving on

The article also notes a few universal tips to being organized that almost always apply to whatever system your child develops:

  • Write it down
  • Put the same thing in the same place every time
  • Make easy-to-lose things bulky
  • Breaking overwhelming tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces will help you get things done
  • The simpler the better

For more information on all of these tips, check out the full article at the Child Mind Institute. Helping your child get organized is like enlisting them on your side in the battle against chaos in your household.

Photo © 2011 by Kristina Alexanderson under Creative Commons license.