Emergency Preparedness - Seasonal Safety Tips

Spring and Summer
Spring cleaning? The days are getting warmer and longer so now is a good time to get rid of all that extra trash, boxes, piles of clothing and other combustibles that can start a fire. The Skokie Fire Department suggests you clean out storage areas on a regular basis. Don't give fire a place to start. A clean house is a safe house.

  • Make sure that you store gasoline and other flammables OUTSIDE your home. Store oily, greasy rags in labeled, sealed metal containers.
  • Never use flammable liquids near sparks, heat, or open flames such as a pilot light or while smoking. Note: Flammable liquids include linseed oil, gasoline, paints, paint thinner, strippers, acetone and adhesives.
  • Store unused charcoal in a cool, dry place as damp coal can ignite itself. Be careful when barbecuing. Use caution with hot coals and lighter fluid, and dispose of properly.

Seasonal Storms

Warmer weather can bring volatile weather. Know what to look for and what to do. Tornadoes, twisters, wind shears or severe thunderstorms, no matter what they are called, can wreak havoc to your home or business.

Watch or Warning?

  • A WATCH is whenever there is a potential for severe storms or tornadoes in your immediate area.
  • A WARNING indicates the presence of a tornado or a severe storm. Once a warning is issued, immediately seek shelter.  A warning is usually indicated to the local community by the constant sounding of the warning sirens. These sirens are usually tested Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m.. Become familiar with the sounds.


MYTH: Open the windows before seeking shelter.
FACT: While once thought to be correct, opening the windows has no benefit because it is sheer wind power which destroys buildings.

MYTH: High-rise buildings disrupt tornadoes.
FACT: Tornadoes can reach heights of 40,000 feet. High-rise buildings have no impact on storms this large.

MYTH: The southwest corner of the basement is the safest place to be.
FACT: The safest place to be is in the center of the basement under a strong table or other heavy furniture. Debris has been found to collect in the corners of basements.

MYTH: Radar can pinpoint the exact location of a tornado.
FACT: While Doppler radar has increased the accuracy of predictions, the weather service is still only able to predict the general areas that may get tornadoes or severe storms.

MYTH: A car can outrun a tornado and is a safe place to be.
FACT: A tornado's speed and direction can change suddenly and quickly. You should seek shelter in a building or in a low area of the ground.

The following safety suggestions will help you and your family have a worry-free winter.

  • Have furnaces, wood stoves and chimneys cleaned and inspected by qualified personnel before the heating season begins.
  • If you have frozen pipes, do not attempt to thaw them with a torch or open flame.
  • Make sure there are operating smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms throughout your home, and develop a family escape plan.
  • Keep the area around the furnace and hot water heater free of clutter.
  • If the pilot light on your furnace or water heater goes out, relight it carefully, following the manufacturer's instructions, or have a qualified person relight it.
  • Clean lint from your dryer before each load.
  • If a fuse or breaker blows, find the cause.
  • Never use an open flame (i.e. lighted match, lighter, or candle) to illuminate a dark area such as a closet.
  • Discard trash regularly so that it does not accumulate.
  • If using a fireplace, burn only small loads of wood or follow instructions when using artificial logs. Use a metal fireplace screen or tempered glass door enclosure. Be sure the fire goes out before going to bed or leaving the home. NEVER burn newspapers or gift wrappings in the fireplace; they create high, hot flames that can start a chimney fire.
  • Use care when using candles. Keep them away from other flammables. Place candles where they cannot be knocked over or reached by children and pets.
  • If you purchase a live tree, cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better absorption of water. Keep the tree stored outside the house until you are ready to decorate. Keep it watered. Check out your lights before placing them on a tree or around your house. DO NOT OVERLOAD OUTLETS with excessive extension cord use.