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Written by John Dwyer   
Thursday, 07 August 2014 10:07

IEMA Encourages Parents to Include Emergency Preparedness in Back-to-School Plans

August is School Preparedness Month in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – School bells soon will be ringing as students across the state begin the new school year.  The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is joining with local emergency management agencies throughout Illinois during August to encourage families to include emergency preparedness in their back-to-school plans.

“No one likes to think about the possibility of an emergency happening while children are in school or at daycare,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken.  “But as we saw with the May 2013 tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma and other incidents, it can happen.  A few minutes of your time now can help you and your child deal with emergencies that may occur during the school day.” 

Monken offered several back-to-school planning tips for parents of school-aged children, including:

• Know your child’s school or day care emergency plan.
• Find out where children will be taken in the event of an evacuation during school hours.
• Ensure your emergency contact information is up-to-date at your child’s school.
• Pre-authorize a friend or relative to pick up your children in an emergency and make sure the school knows who that designated person is.
• Have a family communications plan and review the plan periodically with your child.  The plan should include contact information for an out-of-area family member or friend, since local telephone networks may not work during a major disaster.

Many college campuses offer email and text messages to alert students of potential dangers, such as severe weather and other threats.  Encourage your college student to sign-up for such alerts.  Some colleges also provide alert messages for parents so they also are aware of potential dangers at their child’s school.

Additional preparedness information is available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov

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Written by Mitch Kazel   
Sunday, 13 July 2014 10:42

Between 4 and 6 inches of rain, with isolated heaver amounts, fell over parts of Champaign County including, Champaign, Urbana and Savoy, in a roughly 4 hour period this morning. The excessive rainfall amounts led to flooded, intersections, underpasses, basements, culverts, etc. Streets and roads both in town and in rural areas were closed at times while covered in water. The situation has continued to improve throughout the afternoon and most roads and streets are now reopened. There is still heavy runoff, however, and people are cautioned against driving in flooded areas or playing in the water.

There have been no injuries reported. An overnight shelter is being opened by the American Red Cross at 1605 West Kirby, the temporary location of Kenwood School for those who may be temporarily displaced by water or sewage.

Champaign County remains under a Flood Warning until 10:00PM with a Flash Flood Watch beginning at 10:00PM and extending into Sunday afternoon. Another round of heavy rain is possible overnight and could possibly result in more rapid flooding as the ground is saturated and retention ponds, ditches and streams are running full. Motorists are urged to exercise extreme caution overnight. It is nearly impossible to gauge the depth of water running over pavement, especially in the dark. If flooded areas are encountered, remember to “Turn Around Don’t Drown.”
Last Updated on Sunday, 13 July 2014 10:53
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Written by John Dwyer   
Wednesday, 02 July 2014 07:44


Extreme Heat Can Be Serious Health Hazard

IEMA, local EMAs urge people to never leave children, pets in cars

SPRINGFIELD – On average, more people die from heat-related causes each year than any other weather hazard. Yet many people still don’t take heat dangers seriously. That’s why the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and local emergency management agencies will be working to increase awareness of heat safety throughout July, traditionally one of the hottest months in Illinois.

“We’ve had a few hot spells so far this year, but the hottest part of the summer is yet to come,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “Extreme heat isn’t just uncomfortable, it can be deadly.  We want people to be aware of heat hazards and stay safe this summer.”

According to statistics compiled by the National Weather Service (NWS), more than 3,800 people died from heat-related causes in the U.S. from 1986 - 2013.  During that same period, floods caused 2,246 fatalities while tornadoes were responsible for 2,016 deaths.

Monken said one of the most important safety tips when temperatures rise is to never leave children, disabled adults or pets in parked cars.  Each year, dozens of children and countless pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia.  Hyperthermia occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle.

Temperatures inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults.  Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate.  The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults.

Parents and caregivers are urged to take actions that will help them remember a child is in the backseat, such as placing a purse, briefcase, cell phone or other crucial item next to the child. 

It’s also important to lock your vehicle doors when at home even if it is parked in the garage.  Curious children can climb into an unlocked vehicle and become a victim of heat stroke.
Additional tips on how to protect yourself and others from heat-related illnesses are available on the state’s Ready Illinois website (www.Ready.Illinois.gov).  You can also follow Ready Illinois on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ReadyIllinois and on Twitter at twitter.com/ReadyIllinois.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 July 2014 10:28
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Written by John Dwyer   
Monday, 23 June 2014 07:34

IEMA, National Weather Service Remind People,
When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors”

Lightning Safety Awareness Week is June 22-28

SPRINGFIELD – “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors” is a good phase to remember this summer while you’re enjoying outdoor activities.  The catchy phrase is intended to remind people that hearing thunder means you’re close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the National Weather Service (NWS) and local emergency management agencies are joining forces to promote lightning safety during Lightning Safety Awareness Week June 22-28.

“More than 70 percent of lightning strike deaths occur during June, July and August, when people are enjoying more outdoor activities,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken.  “Don’t take a chance with lightning.  If you hear thunder, that’s your cue to take shelter immediately.”

Monken said some people still rely on outdated lightning safety rules, such as taking shelter only if you can’t count to 30 between seeing the lightning strike and hearing thunder.  People are now urged to take shelter in a substantial building or hard-topped car as soon as they hear thunder.

According to the NWS, on average around 50 people are killed and 1,000 people injured by lightning in the U.S. each year.  A majority of victims were either outdoors in an open area or taking part in an activity near the water, such as fishing, boating or swimming.

To date in 2014, the NWS reports seven lightning-related deaths nationwide, none of those in Illinois.

“The past several years there has been an increasing trend across the U.S. in lightning injuries and fatalities while people are taking part in outdoor activities, such as fishing, walking or sports events,” said Chris Miller, warning coordination meteorologist for the NWS Lincoln Office.  “Simply put - there is no safe place outside in a thunderstorm.  You must take shelter in a substantial building or hard-topped vehicle to stay safe.”

While less than 10 percent of people who are struck by lightning are killed, many lightning strike survivors suffer various degrees of disability.  Only a few lightning strike victims actually suffer burns, and these are usually minor.  However, many lightning strike survivors are left with debilitating life-long effects, including memory loss, personality changes, fatigue, irreparable nerve damage, chronic pain and/or headaches, difficulty sleeping and dizziness.

IEMA and the NWS offer the following tips for staying safe when thunderstorms approach:      

Outdoor lightning safety tips:
• No place outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area.
• If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
• When you hear thunder, immediately move to a safe shelter.
• Safe shelter is a substantial building or inside an enclosed, hard-topped vehicle.
• Stay in the safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder.

If there is no safe shelter anywhere nearby:
• Seek lower elevation areas.
• Never use a tree for shelter.
• Immediately get out and away from pools, lakes and other bodies of water.
• Stay away from all metallic objects (fences, power lines, poles, etc.).
• Do not raise umbrellas or golf clubs above you.

People shouldn’t hesitate to help someone who has been struck by lightning since victims do not carry an electrical charge.  The surge of electricity through a lightning victim’s body causes cardiac arrest in most fatalities, so immediate medical attention is critical.  If the victim doesn’t have a pulse and isn’t breathing, CPR should be administered immediately. 

For additional tips on lightning safety visit the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov or contact IEMA at 217-785-9925.

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Written by John Dwyer   
Monday, 02 June 2014 13:10


IEMA Offers Tips for Summertime Safety

June 1, 2014
Vacation safety first of four topics to be highlighted during June

SPRINGFIELD – After a long, brutal winter, Illinois residents are embracing the return of balmy weather by spending more time in the great outdoors.  Throughout June, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and local emergency management agencies throughout the state will offer tips to help people stay safe while enjoying this summer.

Each week during the month, IEMA will focus on a summertime safety topic, beginning with vacation safety (June 1-7), heat safety (June 8-14), outdoor activities safety (June 15-21) and lightning safety (June 22-30).  Safety tips also will be posted on the state’s Ready Illinois Facebook (www.Facebook.com/ReadyIllinois) and Twitter (twitter.com/ReadyIllinois) pages.

“Many people are planning summer vacations right now,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken.  “Whether you’re checking out some of the great sites in Illinois or traveling far from home, I encourage you to spend a few minutes learning about weather or other disasters possible for your vacation spot.  A little advanced planning literally could be a lifesaver if disaster strikes during your vacation.”

Monken said if you’re not sure how to prepare for hazards not experienced in Illinois, such as hurricanes, tsunamis or wildfires, you can find information on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) website at www.fema.gov. Even if your vacation spot is prone to dangers you’re already familiar with, dealing with those emergencies can be challenging in a new environment. 

When you arrive at your destination, identify safe locations to go to when severe weather approaches and find out how weather warnings are communicated in the area (Are there outdoor warning sirens? Does your hotel or resort have a public address system?). 

Other vacation tips include:


•Pack a travel-size emergency supply kit with water, snacks, a first-aid kit, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, extra batteries and an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers you’d need if disaster strikes.

•Pack extra supplies of critical items, such as prescription medications and baby formula, in case your return is delayed by a disaster.

•If traveling internationally, register with the U.S. Department of State through a free online service at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/.  The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) allows travelers to enter information about upcoming trips abroad so that the State Department can better assist them in an emergency.

•If traveling by car, check the forecast for your entire route before and during your trip.  Weather conditions can change drastically, especially if thunderstorms are expected.

•Become familiar with the names of the counties you are traveling through because hazardous weather warnings are issued by county.

•If you have a newer smartphone, check to ensure the ‘Emergency Alerts’ option is enabled in your ‘Settings’ notification center.  This will allow you to receive geographically-targeted, text-like Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) messages about imminent safety threats in your current location.
More preparedness information is available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov​.

Last Updated on Monday, 23 June 2014 08:59

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