Will You Be Prepared If a Disaster Strikes?
July is financial preparedness month
SPRINGFIELD, IL – Will you be prepared if a disaster strikes? Reports indicate 40-percent of adults are not financially prepared to cover an unexpected expense of $400. A disaster or emergency can strike anytime, anywhere. In these stressful times, having access to personal financial, insurance, medical and other records is crucial for starting the recovery process quickly and efficiently.
Start by taking small steps. The best way to be financially prepared for a disaster is by saving. A rainy-day fund will allow you to invest in your safety by setting aside monthly for emergencies.
Operation HOPE can help strengthen your financial preparedness through the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK). The EFFAK can help you start to prepare by offering guidance on managing finances, offers insights on dealing with credit scores, and describes what to expect should a disaster strike your community. All of this will help families prepare for both the big incidents and minor emergencies.
Before a disaster strikes, review your insurance coverage. Insurance is the fastest way to recover after a disaster. Review the hazards that exist in your community (flood, tornado, earthquake, etc.) to ensure proper coverage. Homeowners and renters insurance do not typically cover flood damage. Talk to your agent to find out what is covered in your existing policy and ask about the availability of flood insurance. It is also recommended that you document your personal property with photographs to expedite future insurance claims.
Safeguard Critical Documents
Save digital copies of your household identification, financial and legal documents, medical information and insurance policies in order to quickly and safely access them in the event of an emergency or disaster. If you cannot save them digitally, gather all the documents store them in a safety deposit box. For more information on how you can reduce the financial impact of a disaster or emergency, visit https://www.ready.gov/financial-preparedness.
IEMA Shares Heat Safety Tips, Resources During Summer Safety Month
SPRINGFIELD – As the school year winds down, many families will be heading outdoors to enjoy their summer vacations. In Illinois, temperatures during the summer months can reach dangerous levels. Extreme heat can be particularly hazardous for children, seniors, those with special needs, and pets. This month, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and local emergency management agencies throughout the state are offering tips to help people stay safe while enjoying the summer.
Last year, 24 children died from heatstroke after being left in hot cars and already one toddler has died in 2021. Heat can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults. Parents should develop a routine that will ensure the backseat is always checked before the car is locked, such as putting a purse, cell phone or other needed item in the back seat or consider opening the car’s back door every time the car is parked.
Summer’s extreme heat can also lead to heat-induced illnesses, including heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Remember to check in on family, friends, neighbors, the elderly and pets to ensure they are safe. When extreme heat strikes, limit your time outdoors, seek air conditioning and drink plenty of water.
To protect yourself and others, familiarize yourself with the following heat safety tips:
Know the terms used by the National Weather Service during extreme heat: Heat Wave, Excessive Heat Watch, Heat Advisory, Excessive Heat Warning, and Heat Index.
Do not leave children or pets in a closed vehicle, even for a few minutes. On a hot day, temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach 140ºF-190ºF within 30 minutes.
Make a special effort to check on your neighbors during a heat wave, especially if they are seniors, families with young children, people with special needs, or living alone.
Seniors and others who may be sensitive to extreme heat should contact friends, neighbors, or relatives periodically throughout the day.
Seek help if you feel symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
Stay out of the sun. If you must be in the sun, wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15) and a wide-brimmed hat.
Stay in the shade or under awnings as much as possible.
Avoid overexertion and strenuous outdoor activities.
Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible to prevent sunburn.
To learn more about how to stay safe during the summer heat and how to treat heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion, visit ready.illinois.gov.
April is Youth Preparedness Month
IEMA, OSFM highlight ways to involve youth in disaster preparedness
Emergencies and disasters can happen at any time and anywhere. Disaster planning, response and recovery efforts should always take into account the unique needs of children, who make up roughly a quarter of the United States population. That is why this month, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Office of the State Fire Marshal Office (OSFM) are taking steps to promote youth preparedness.
“Each year, millions of children are impacted by disasters,” said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “Studies have shown, children are positive influencers in their households. Children can effectively bring the message of preparedness home to their families. Participating in youth preparedness programs empowers children to become leaders at home and in their schools and communities.” “Kids practice fire drills each year at school, and families should practice these drills at home too,” said Matt Perez, Illinois State Fire Marshal. “The Office of the State Fire Marshall encourages families to practice their home fire escape plan twice a year. Every home needs working smoke alarms and a well-thought-out fire escape plan. Make sure all members of your family can identify two ways out of each room and a family meeting spot outside the home.”
Tips for incorporating children into disaster preparedness:
Sparky the Fire Dog is mascot of The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Sparky is used to help educate kids and parents on fire prevention and safety. The NFPA has established a Sparky website and Facebook page that offers a wealth of age-appropriate games, videos, apps and other activities that make learning about fire safety easy and fun.
Another great resource comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA and the American Red Cross offer a disaster preparedness activity book, Prepare with Pedro. This booklet is designed to encourage youth and their families to be better prepared for disasters by offering safety advice alongside crosswords, coloring pages, matching games and more.
FEMA also offers a Youth Preparedness Council as an opportunity for teenagers and young adults to serve on a national council. During their two-year term, the youth leaders complete both a local and national-level project to share ideas regarding youth disaster preparedness.
Children who are prepared experience less anxiety and feel more confident during actual emergencies and disasters. Use Youth Preparedness Month as an opportunity to promote interactive activities within your family. One way to do this is by involving children in the development of a family emergency plan.
Use real world events to teach about emergency situations and disasters. Using media coverage of current disasters (Floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, power outages), talk to children about how your family would respond if this happened to you. Utilizing your family emergency plan, discuss where would you go, what would you do and how you will ensure their safety during an emergency.
For more information about disaster preparedness, visit Ready.Illinois.gov.
March is Severe Weather Preparedness Month
SPRINGFIELD, IL – In Illinois, on any given week we could see blue skies, thunderstorms and torrential rainfall. The changing weather is second nature to many of us, but as the calendar flips from winter to spring, it is important to not become complacent about severe weather threats that exist in our state. As part of Severe Weather Preparedness Month, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) have teamed up to publish a Severe Weather Preparedness Guide to help Illinoisans be better prepared when severe weather strikes.
“Making people aware of weather hazards and how to prepare for them, is just step one. Using the information and applying protective measures in an emergency takes practice. This month, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is encouraging families, businesses, schools and communities to build a kit, practice your plan and be better prepared,” said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau.
The National Weather Service will be recognizing Severe Weather Preparedness Week during the week of March 1-5. During this week, Illinoisans are encouraged to:
• Make a severe weather preparedness plan
• Build an emergency preparedness kit
• Identify your safe place to during a storm
• Familiarize yourself the various weather watches/warnings/advisories The
National Weather Service (NWS) is responsible for issuing severe weather watches, warnings and advisories to alert the public when dangerous weather conditions are expected. Educating yourself and your family about these various terms, and the associated protective measures, can help keep you and your family safe. This year, the NWS added two new terms to this Severe Weather Preparedness Guide: Tornado Emergency and Flash Flood Emergency.
"It is so important to know the difference between a watch and warning when it comes to tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and floods." said Chris Miller with the National Weather Service in Lincoln, Illinois. "In rare situations, an emergency can be issued for tornadoes and flash floods. This is when a confirmed, violent tornado or significant flood creates an imminent danger to life and property. Act immediately to save your life."
Thunderstorms can produce damaging winds, deadly lightning, large hail, flash flooding and tornadoes. On average, Illinois will see 53 tornadoes each year with nearly 20-percent occurring at night. For a number of reasons, tornadoes that occur at night are twice as likely to result in fatalities.
The National Weather Service and state and local emergency management officials strongly encourage people to have a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) All Hazards Weather Radio with battery backup. These radios can be programmed to receive alerts for specified counties to keep you and your family apprised of impending weather and post-event information for all types of hazards including natural (earthquakes), environmental (chemical spills) and public safety hazards (AMBER alerts). When an alert is issued for the programmed area, the device will sound a warning alarm tone followed by the essential information.
“The information provided in these alerts will guide you through the appropriate protective measures. Watches mean that severe weather or flooding might develop near your area over the next several hours. Be ready to act if storms approach. When a warning is issued, a storm has a history of producing damage or flooding, or is expected to develop in your area shortly. We are warning you to take action immediately,” said Miller.
In this day and age of families constantly on the go, it is also critical for people to have multiple ways to receive notifications and updated information about severe weather warnings. FEMA offers a FREE mobile app that provides fast and reliable weather alerts from the National Weather Service (NWS). The app can be tailored to offer alerts for up to five different locations nationwide. The mobile app can also help you locate open shelters and disaster resource centers near you in the event of an emergency.
In addition to NOAA weather radios, Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) can provide lifesaving information about impending storms and emergencies. These alerts can be sent to your mobile device without the need to download an app or subscribe to a service. Not only are these tools critical to surviving overnight storms, but they can be extremely beneficial for those who travel.
For more information about what to do before, during and after a storm, please visit www.Ready.Illinois.gov.
January 2021 is ‘Radon Action Month’ in Illinois
IEMA, American Lung Association launch student poster, video contest with cash prizes
SPRINGFIELD – Recognizing the importance of early detection and its impact on the health, life, and safety of all Illinois residents, Governor JB Pritzker proclaimed January 2021 as Radon Action Month in Illinois. With this proclamation, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is urging all residents to take time this month to test their home for radon.
The United States Surgeon General has warned that radon gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Statistics show radon has been found in nearly 40 percent of the homes tested in Illinois. In Illinois, the central and northern regions of the state are shown to have higher levels of radon in the soil.
“With more people staying home, working and learning remotely, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is making radon awareness a priority,” said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “It’s estimated that more than 1,100 people in Illinois develop radon-related lung cancer each year. It is important that people realize that radon can be found in older buildings and new constructions. A simple home test is an inexpensive and easy way to know if you and your family is at risk.”
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. This odorless, colorless, tasteless gas comes from the natural breakdown of the soil, and it enters buildings through small cracks in the foundation, sump pits, crawl spaces, floor drains and more. When radon gas mixes with outside air it can become concentrated inside buildings. If not properly mitigated, radon gas can reach drastically high levels and cause major health concerns.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is teaming up with the American Lung Association in Illinois (ALAIL) to increase public awareness of radon risks and ways to reduce radon exposure. IEMA and ALAIL announced the continuation of two statewide contest that encourages students to use their creative talents to promote radon awareness. The Radon Video Contest asks Illinois high school students to create a 30 second commercial style video, while the Radon Poster Contest asks middle school students to create a poster that will encourage people to test their homes for radon.
Radon Poster Contest Radon Video Contest
Eligibility Students Age 9-14 All High School Students
Registration Status Now Open Now Open
Submissions Due March 5 March 21
First Prize $200 $1000 (student), $300 (school)
Second Prize $150 $750 (student), $200 (school)
Third Prize $100 $500 (student), $100 (school)
Honorable Mention n/a $250 (student)
In 2020, Illinois took home top honors in the National Radon Video Contest. The video, What’s Your Radon, was produced by Girl Scout Troop 41592 and comprised of students from Barrington High School. The top posters and videos from the 2020 state contests can be viewed on IEMA’s radon website at www.radon.illinois.gov. The website also includes information about radon and lists of licensed measurement and mitigation professionals. Information is also available through IEMA’s Radon Hotline at 800-325-1245.
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