Our Chicago: Taking summer safety measures against tornadoes, drowning

CHICAGO (WLS) -- With the weather turning warmer and COVID-19 pandemic restrictions easing, many of people are enjoying summertime fun.

However, this is also a good time to remember how to stay safe.

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An expert gives tips to stay safe and prepared when a tornado is on its way.



One danger this time of year are tornadoes. A week ago, a twister touched down in the western suburbs leaving hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed.

Troy Christensen, a former meteorologist at ABC7 Chicago who now works for FEMA, said people can watch television or listen to radio reports to get the latest weather alerts. Weather apps are also a good option.

Also, if a tornado is on the way, the lowest level in a house is the safest place to be, but for those without a basement, an interior bathroom or closet may be the best option, according to Christensen.

"I think that's really one of the keys, especially when you look at the damage out in DuPage County. There is certainly some very bad damage, but a lot of it is the exterior part of the house and even roof damage, so really that just validates the fact that if you get as far away from the outside of your house or the walls, that's really one of the best places to go for a tornado." Christensen said.

Christensen also recommends that people prepare a tornado kit that includes such items as food, water, medications and perhaps an extra pair of eyeglasses.

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An expert provides tips to stay above water while swimming and facing potential drowning danger.



Another potential summertime danger is drowning. Last weekend was deadly on Lake Michigan. At least two people drowned in Indiana and Wisconsin, including a girl swept underwater by a strong wave at Washington Beach in Michigan City, Ind.

Dave Benjamin, the executive director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, began working to teach water safety after nearly drowning himself. Benjamin said he knew nothing about water safety at the time. He recommends that while swimming, individuals have an adult on the shore who is supervising. Benjamin said that person should not be on their phone, reading a book or doing anything else that might distract them.

Benjamin said there is a difference between knowing how to swim and knowing how to survive. His organization suggests using certain steps in order to keep the head above water.

"What we advocate in water over their heads is that they flip, float and follow. Flip over on their back and float to keep their head above water, to calm themselves down from the panic of drowning and to conserve their energy, and then follow a safe path out of the water," Benjamin said.
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