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Weather or Not, Be Prepared for the Unexpected

Beecher, Illinois – Springtime in our area is anything but predictable, especially this year, it seems. Tornadoes are one of the scariest threats and can present serious, even fatal consequences. Prepare yourself and your family by knowing what to do before, during and after a tornado strikes.

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornado intensities are classified on the Fujita Scale with ratings between F0 (weakest) to F5 (strongest). They are capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. Signs include dark, often greenish clouds, large hail, cloud of debris, a visibly rotating funnel-shaped cloud and roaring noise.

There are several precautions you can take to prepare for an oncoming tornado. First and foremost is to stay informed about watches and warnings by listening to local news or a weather radio. Tornado watches are issued when existing weather conditions indicate an increased risk for tornado activity. Tornado warnings are issued when an actual tornado has been spotted in the area. Know your community's warning system to determine what the sirens mean. The Village Hall in your community should be able to provide this information. It is state law in Illinois for communities to test their emergency warning systems on Tuesdays at 10:00 am. If you hear sirens at any other time, it is advised that you seek shelter immediately.

Pick a safe room in your home where your family can gather during a tornado. A basement, storm cellar or in interior room on the lowest floor with no windows are the safest ones. Make sure everyone knows which room they should go to and don't forget the pets! It is also a good idea to practice tornado drills, especially if you have young children. Mobile homes ARE NOT safe during tornadoes or other severe winds. If you live in a mobile home, know beforehand where you can go when you hear the sirens.

As soon as a siren alert has been issued, seek shelter immediately. If you are not at home, use the same guidelines-basement or lower level room with no windows- to find the safest alternative. If you are caught outdoors and cannot walk to a safe shelter quickly, immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest shelter. If driving is not possible due to flying debris or if you can actually see a tornado in the distance, do not try to outdrive the tornado. Get out of the car, moving as far away from it as possible. Find a low lying area or a ditch in which to lie down and use your arms to cover and protect your head and neck. Avoid areas where there are downed electrical power lines, utility poles, trees, overpasses on a freeway and bridges.

After the tornado threat has passed, examine your home for damage. Watch for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them immediately to the appropriate utility company. If there is no power, use flashlights when examining your home - do NOT use candles. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out of the building quickly and call the gas company or fire department. Take pictures of any damage for insurance claims. If you notice spilled bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids, clean them up to avoid a potential fire hazard.

By being informed before disaster strikes, you can lessen the risk of potential injury or worse. The American Red Cross provides numerous resources to help those affected by disasters. Visit their website at www.redcross.org for more information.

About First Community Bank and Trust
First Community Bank and Trust is a privately owned bank. Established in 1916 First Community Bank and Trust has been serving Beecher, IL, Peotone, IL and the surrounding communities for over 95 years. Our commitment to providing the best banking products and services is matched only by our outstanding customer service. We offer traditional community banking services, including mortgage, consumer, and commercial lending, as well as state of the art electronic banking services.

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Press Contact:
Steven D. Koehn, VP
First Community Bank and Trust
(708) 946-2246