OEMC Encourages Preparedness for Spring and Summer Extreme Weather Safety

April 30, 2021

Know the possible threats, precautions and safeguards to enjoy the seasons


As we move into the spring and summer seasons, the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) is reminding residents to be cognizant of possible thunderstorms, flooding, excessive heat and other extreme weather conditions that come with the season and take steps to prepare in order to stay safe.   
“Last year alone, we experienced historic flooding due to high lake levels, the wettest May on record, an EF-1 tornado and the warmest summer since 1871.  All amid a pandemic and civil unrest. Emergency situations and extreme weather are not mutually exclusive,” said Rich Guidice, Executive Director of OEMC. “Tornados and other disrupting events can happen in Chicago and we all should have plans and know what to do to lessen the impact.”   
OEMC monitors weather conditions and other hazards daily 24/7 throughout the year and alerts the public for any threatening situations, as well as prepares for any mitigation of related issues.   
 Hazards can be thunderstorms producing tornadoes, strong winds, large hail or lightning.   
 Being near bodies of water such as the lakefront paths or Riverwalk can pose threats of flooding and being swept into currents, especially with already high lake levels.    
 According to the National Weather Service, lightning kills an average of 30 people every year.    
 More than half of all flood fatalities are vehicle related.   
 Heat and humidity take a toll on the body, as Chicago has experienced in the 1995 heat wave.   
 There are an estimated 100 rip-current fatalities a year in the U.S., with most fatalities from inland areas.  

Simple steps to know your risk and take action are important before or during an emergency situation or when weather impacts happen.  

Weather Safety:  
 Thunderstorms: If outside during a thunderstorm, go inside a sturdy building. Taking shelter under a tree can be deadly – the tree may fall on you or you may be at greater risk of getting struck by lightning. 
 Flooding: Avoid flood waters; Do NOT drive through flooded roadways or viaducts as water may be deeper than it appears and can hide hazards such as sharp objects. 
 Lightning: When you hear thunder, immediately move to indoor shelter; it is not safe outdoors during lightning. Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity; Stay away from windows when indoors during lightning. 
 Tornado: Seek shelter indoors to inner space; Being in a vehicle during a tornado is not safe; if unable to get to shelter, either get down in your car and cover your head, or abandon your car and seek shelter in a low lying area such as a ditch or ravine. 
 Heat: Never leave a child, disabled person or pet locked in a car unattended – look before you lock. 
Lakefront/Beach Safety: 
Rip Currents: Learn how to escape a rip current:  Relax, swim to shore but don’t swim against current; If you can’t escape, float or tread water. 
Lakefront Paths: Heed the warnings and obey signage or officials on path closures; Do NOT navigate around barricades or closures – they are there for your safety to avoid risks of falls or being swept into the water, requiring rescue. 
 Boaters: Boaters should be mindful of break wall locations at all times; When water levels rise high enough to cover the walls, boaters may be at risk of serious injury and vessel damage. 
 Pole Markers: Be aware of your location along the lakefront should an emergency arise. Signs are posted on light poles in locations along the Chicago Lakefront, Grant Park streets and south Lake Shore Drive where addresses may not be available. 

Keep informed and have communication plans in place before an emergency.  Know what actions to take when warnings are issued:  
 Severe Thunderstorm Watch:  Severe Thunderstorms possible in and near the area.  
 Severe Thunderstorm Warning:  Severe Thunderstorms are occurring or imminent in the warning area.  
 Tornado Watch:  Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are possible in the area.  
 Tornado Warning:  Tornado is imminent.  Seek shelter immediately.  
 Flash Flood Warning:  A flash flood is imminent. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop.
 Heat Advisory:  Heat index is expected to reach 105 to 109 degrees or issued for lower criteria if it is early in the season or during a multi-day heat wave.  

OEMC issues several alerts and notifications to keep residents up to date on weather conditions and emergencies:  
 Notify Chicago: Sign up for emergency alerts at www.NotifyChicago.org  
 CHILAKE: For lakefront notices, TEXT “CHILAKE” to 7-8-0-1-5  
 COVID: Get COVID-19 updates by TEXTING “COVID19” to 6-7-2-8-3  
 CHIBIZ: For alerts affecting businesses, TEXT “CHIBIZ” to 6-7-2-8-3  
For additional information on emergency preparedness information, visit the OEMC website at Chicago.gov/OEMC. Follow the Office of Emergency Management and Communications on Facebook, Twitter (@ChicagoOEMC) and Instagram

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