Posted: February 28, 2017 by Heather Houck, Emergency Response Team Leader
The Emergency Response Team is a group of volunteers committed to the safety and well-being of all those attending service or participating in events here at The Village. Our volunteers have various backgrounds in emergency services, nursing, fire protection, and law enforcement, but anyone with an interest in safety is welcome to join our team.
Today, we’d like to talk with you about Severe Weather Safety. March is the beginning of severe weather season here in Illinois. On average, Illinois has about 54 tornadoes per year. That means Illinois ranks #6 on the list of top 10 states for tornado activity. Let’s play a little severe weather trivia:
Severe Weather Trivia (True or False)
1. A severe weather watch means there is potential for severe weather and a warning means that severe weather is imminent so you need to take shelter immediately.
2. Since I’m inside my house and out of the storm, I’m completely safe from lightning.
False. While inside waiting out a storm, avoid using the telephone or electrical appliances and do not take showers or baths. Telephone lines, cords, plumbing, even metal window and door frames are all lightning conductors and pose a threat.
3. Lightning can strike many miles away from the thunderstorm.
4. Overpasses can concentrate the tornado winds so they are NOT a safe place to shelter during a tornado.
5. Large and heavy vehicles, such as SUVs and pickups, are safe to drive through flood waters.
False. Many people do not realize that two feet of water can float most vehicles, including SUVs and pickups. If the water is moving rapidly, most vehicles can be swept away.
6. Floods are the most widespread natural disaster aside from wildfires.
7. During a tornado warning, you should open your windows so you can see if it’s coming toward your house and equalize the pressure to reduce wind damage.
False. You should take shelter immediately. Some tornadoes can be very difficult to see due to thick rain or blowing debris. Opening the windows increases the wind through your house and can increase injuries from flying debris.
8. Heat lightning occurs after very hot summer days and poses no threat.
False. Heat lightning is actually lightning within a thunderstorm that’s too far away for the thunder to be heard.
Severe Weather Emergency
So what do we do when severe weather threatens our area on a Sunday morning? Thanks to Terry Darnall here at The Village, we have a NOAA weather radio in the Welcome Center to keep us up to date with any nearby watches or warnings. When there’s a severe weather watch in our area, the ERT volunteers make sure our flashlights are all in working order and keep the KV teachers, security, ushers, and pastor aware of the possibility for severe weather. In the event of an actual Tornado Warning, the ERT will work with the ushers and security to move everyone into tornado safe areas of our facility. That would include any of the bathrooms as well as the infant room in Kid Village.
If in any circumstance the church needs to be evacuated we want to be very clear that anyone in the worship room needs to leave through the emergency exits near the kitchen in our gathering space. Please avoid leaving through the front doors because we don’t want to be in the way of emergency services personnel when they arrive.
Of course, our first priority is always the safety and wellbeing of your children so we ask that you NOT try to retrieve them from Kid Village. Instead, we need you to meet them outside behind the church so their teacher can be sure EVERY child has safely been evacuated. We have three emergency exits within Kid Village so we can evacuate them very quickly. By the time an evacuation is announced in here, we will have already begun evacuation of the Kid Village area. The teachers will bring the attendance list with them to make sure every child is accounted for. So the fastest way to reunite with your child is to leave through that door, move toward the back of the building, and retrieve them from their teacher.
Finally, I’d like to let you know we have an AED for sudden medical emergencies. AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator and ours is located out on the wall just opposite the Kid Village check in area. We have multiple persons in our church trained to use the AED but it is designed to be used by anyone who finds a person without a pulse and it won’t shock someone unless the heart rhythm warrants it.
If you’re interested in serving on this team, contact Heather Houck.