Created on Friday, 31 July 2015 12:22
Written by John Dwyer
Parents Encouraged to Include Emergency Preparedness in Back-to-School Plans
August is School and Campus Preparedness Month in Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – As parents prepare to send their children back to school or college, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and local emergency management agencies throughout Illinois are encouraging them to include emergency preparedness in their back-to-school plans.
“Disasters can happen anytime of the day, even when children are in school or daycare,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “Take a few minutes to find out how your child’s school will handle emergencies and talk to your child about how your family will communicate after a disaster.”
Joseph 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 current emergency contact information is on file 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.
• Teach children about ‘Text First, Talk Later.’ Short, simple text messages, such as “R U OK?” and “I’m OK,” are more likely to get through than a phone call if phone service is disrupted following an emergency. As phone congestion eases, you can follow up with a phone call to relay more information.
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 on campus. In addition, make sure your student knows the emergency plans for their dorm or apartment building.
Additional preparedness information is available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.
Created on Thursday, 02 July 2015 09:08
Written by John Dwyer
When Temperatures Rise
Offer safety tips to help people beat the heat
SPRINGFIELD – The hottest days of summer are just around the corner, and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and local emergency management agencies are offering heat safety tips to help people play it safe when temperatures rise.
“Warm weather is a welcomed relief after the long, cold winter we endured this year,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “But summertime comes with its own hazards, many related to excessive heat. We want to help people avoid these risks and enjoy a fun, safe summer.”
Joseph said one of the most important safety tips when temperatures rise is to never leave children, elderly people, disabled adults or pets in parked cars, even for a short time. Temperatures inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to dangerous levels even if the windows are slightly open, and can lead to brain damage or death. The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults.
“Twenty years ago a heat wave led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people in the Midwest during a single week. The July 1995 heat wave tragically demonstrated that heat and humidity are a deadly combination,” said Chris Miller, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln. “Hot and humid conditions put a lot of stress on the human body and can lead to serious health conditions such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke or even death.”
Hot weather tips include:
• Always lock car doors and trunks, even at home, and keep keys out of children's reach.
• Stay hydrated by drinking at least 1½ to 2 quarts of fluids daily, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
• Avoid alcoholic beverages and drinks containing caffeine.
• Avoid overexertion and strenuous outdoor activities if possible.
• Take advantage of cooling centers, public pools and air-conditioned stores and malls during periods of extreme heat. Even a few hours a day in air conditioning can help prevent heat-related illnesses.
• Don’t forget your pets. Offer pets extra water and place the water bowl in a shaded area if outdoors. Make sure pets have a shady refuge where they can escape direct sun exposure.
• If you or someone around you begins experiencing dizziness, nausea, headache, confusion and a rapid pulse, seek medical attention immediate, as these could be the symptoms of heatstroke.
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).
Created on Monday, 13 July 2015 10:44
Written by John Dwyer
IEMA Encourages People to Stay Aware, Be Prepared
for Potential Severe Weather Today
Dangerous heat also presents hazards
SPRINGFIELD – With widespread severe weather predicted for most of Illinois later today, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is encouraging people to stay aware of local forecasts and be prepared to act quickly if storm warnings are issued. Much of the state is also expecting heat indexes above 100 until early this evening, and IEMA officials urged people to stay safe in the extreme heat.
“While we’ve already seen severe storms in northern Illinois this morning, another storm system expected late afternoon into the evening hours could bring localized flooding from heavy rains, severe thunderstorms with damaging wind gusts and large hail, and even a chance for tornadoes,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “In addition, high temperatures and humidity will cause dangerous heat today, so we encourage people to stay hydrated and cool as much as possible today.”
Joseph said people should have multiple ways to receive notifications and updated information about severe weather warnings, such as through a weather alert radio, Wireless Emergency Alerts, weather alert apps, TV and radio broadcasts, the Internet, outdoor warning sirens and more.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather alert radios can be programmed to issue a tone alarm and provide information about a warning that has been issued for your county.
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are available on most smartphones. Check your phone’s notification settings under ‘Government Alerts’ to ensure ‘Emergency Alerts’ is turned on. With a WEA-enabled phone, you will receive tornado and flash flood warnings issued for your location, even if you’re traveling outside your home county or state. Other smartphone alerting apps also are available, including a tornado app by the American Red Cross and a weather alerting app from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In addition, many communities have outdoor warning sirens, which can alert people outdoors of an approaching hazard. Don’t rely on these sirens to alert you when you’re inside a building or asleep.
For more information about severe weather preparedness and heat safety, visit www.Ready.Illinois.gov.
Created on Tuesday, 23 June 2015 08:35
Written by John Dwyer
“When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors” is Focus
of Lightning Safety Awareness Week June 21-27
NWS, emergency management officials seek to save lives, prevent injuries
SPRINGFIELD – Recent thunderstorms have produced spectacular lightning shows, but the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the National Weather Service (NWS) and local emergency management agencies are urging people to stay safe by heading indoors during storms as part of Lightning Safety Awareness Week June 21-27.
“There’s no safe place outdoors when lightning is in the area,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “If you’re close enough to hear thunder, you’re close enough to be struck by lightning. That first clap of thunder is your cue to get into a substantial building or hard-topped vehicle.”
Joseph said remembering the phrase, “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors,” can help you stay safe 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. Once inside a structure or hard-topped vehicle, stay there until 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder.
According to the NWS, there were no lightning-related fatalities in Illinois in 2014. Nationwide, 26 people were killed by lightning. Most of those fatalities occurred outdoors, including people in open areas, under trees, working, in water or participating in other outdoor activities.
“While lightning fatalities have decreased significantly nationwide over the past two decades, far too many people still take unnecessary risks when thunderstorms are in the area,” said Chris Miller, warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS in Lincoln. "Every year, hundreds of people survive lightning strikes. However, many of these people are forced to cope with life-long neurological problems from their injuries. The best advice to prevent a lightning strike continues to be: When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors.”
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.
Created on Monday, 01 June 2015 14:46
Written by John Dwyer
IEMA Encourages Vacation Emergency Preparedness
Offers tips for safe vacations
SPRINGFIELD – Sunscreen, check. Golf clubs, check. Emergency plan? If your summer vacation checklist doesn’t include emergency preparedness, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) encourages you to add this important step to your planning process. Throughout June, IEMA and local emergency agencies across Illinois will promote vacation preparedness to encourage safe travels.
“A disaster can happen anytime, even while you’re on vacation,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “At home, you likely know what to do to stay safe. But in an unfamiliar setting, you and your family could be more vulnerable to harm. We’re encouraging vacationers to take a few minutes to learn about potential hazards and how to stay safe if disaster strikes.”
Joseph said people traveling to another region of the country or overseas should learn about natural and man-made hazards for the area they plan to visit. Information about unfamiliar hazards, such as hurricanes, tsunamis or earthquakes, is available at www.Ready.gov.
Even if your vacation spot is prone to dangers you’re familiar with, such as tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, dealing with those emergencies can be challenging in a new environment.
When you arrive at your destination, identify safe locations for severe weather and find out how emergency warnings are communicated in the area, such as outdoor warning sirens or a public address system. 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.
To help travelers prepare for vacation, IEMA offers the following tips:
Before you leave
• 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.
• Pack extra supplies of critical items, such as prescription medications and baby formula, in case your return is delayed by a disaster.
• Let family and friends know your itinerary and how to reach you.
• Make sure everyone has the cell phone numbers of others in your group. Designate an out-of-area person to contact in case your group is separated during an emergency and local phone lines are overloaded.
• 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) enables the State Department to better assist U.S. travelers in an emergency.
During your trip
• If traveling by car, check the forecast for your entire route before and during your trip.
• Bring along a travel weather radio, which will automatically switch to the weather radio station closest to your travel area and alert you to local weather warnings.
• Become familiar with the names of the counties you are traveling through because weather warnings are issued by county.
If disaster strikes your vacation spot, you can register on the American Red Cross’ “Safe and Well” website at www.safeandwell.org so family and friends will know that you are safe.
More preparedness information is available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.
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