Staying Cyber Secure at the Holidays
December 09, 2020 Springfield, IL -
With COVID-19 restrictions around the nation, shopping virtually has become more than just a convenience and it’s important to take steps to stay safe when shopping online, especially at the holidays. From the convenience of easily making household and grocery purchases to an endless offering of gifts, online shopping has grown in popularity at exponential rates during 2020. Increased online traffic also makes it more lucrative for cyber thieves to trick buyers into scams and steal personal information for financial gain.
“Shopping virtually brings many benefits, including the ability to limit our exposure to COVID-19, but it also opens up shoppers to the myriad of online threats,” stated Jennifer Ricker, Acting Secretary at the Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT). “We want to help our Illinois residents benefit from the convenience of online shopping, while remaining secure through improved cyber awareness.”
Online shopping best practices recommended by the National Cyber Security Alliance include:
Think before you click: Beware of ads encouraging users to click on links, account warnings and shipping notifications. If you receive notice or an enticing offer, do not click on the link. Instead, go directly to the company’s website to verify the offer is legitimate.
Do your homework: Cyber thieves are fond of setting up fake e-commerce sites. Prior to making a purchase, read reviews to hear what others say about the merchant. In addition, look for a physical location and any customer service information. It’s also a good idea to call the merchant to confirm that they are legitimate.
Consider your payment options: Using a credit card is often recommended over a debit card, as there are more consumer protections for credit cards if something goes awry. Watch what you give away: Be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete your transaction. If the merchant is requesting more data than you feel comfortable sharing, cancel the transaction. You only need to fill out required fields at checkout and should never save your payment information in your profile.
Keep tabs on your bank and credit card statements: Be sure to continuously check your accounts for any unauthorized activity. Good recordkeeping goes hand-in-hand with managing your cybersecurity.
Finally, when shopping from the comfort of your home, remember to connect with care. “Make sure your home wireless network is password protected. Adopting a strong password is the best way to protect your personal information such as banking information and other sensitive material you’d prefer to remain private,” said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau.
Educate yourself on cyber scams and fraud to ensure you do not become a victim. View resources from Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT) and Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to learn more.
State Agencies Encourage People to Prepare for Winter Weather
November is Winter Weather Preparedness Month in Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – While the official start of winter is not for several weeks, those in Illinois know that winter weather is inevitable. Knowing what to do before a winter storm strikes can provide peace of mind and ultimately impact how well we respond and recover from any winter storm. To help Illinois residents be prepared for winter weather, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and National Weather Service (NWS) developed a Winter Weather Preparedness Guide to help families prepare for extreme cold, snow and ice.
“Being unprepared for winter weather is not only inconvenient, but it can be dangerous,” said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “We are encouraging all Illinoisans to take a few minutes to put together your home and vehicle emergency supply kits and review the steps you should take to stay safe during hazardous winter weather.”
A study published in 2020 by the University of Illinois Chicago found that nearly 95-percent of temperature related deaths in Illinois were due to cold weather. According to the NWS, the coldest temperature on record occurred on January 31, 2019 when the mercury dropped to negative 38 degrees near Mt. Carroll in Carroll County. The previous record of negative 36 degrees was set in 1999.
Being in the cold too long can cause serious health problems. Hypothermia, or a drop in the body’s core temperature, does not require sub-arctic temperatures and can set in when you are indoors and outdoors. Hypothermia is especially dangerous and can be fatal if not detected promptly and treated properly. Frostbite occurs when your extremities (fingers, toes, nose, and ears) are exposed to cold weather. The skin may become stiff and numb leading to severe tissue damage. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation.
Take Precautions When Working Outside
“Many Illinois workers, such as first-responders, public works crews and construction workers, will have to brave the outdoor elements this winter to do their jobs.” said Illinois Department of Labor Director Michael Kleinik. “It is vital for these workers to prepare ahead for severe conditions. Proper clothing is a must but making sure your body is ready for the added stress is also important.”
Hospital emergency rooms see an increase in cardiac incidents each winter. The frigid cold causes your body to go into protection mode, narrowing blood vessels. That can increase strain on the heart for those doing hard physical labor. Preventative maintenance is a good idea. Medical professionals encourage people who must work outside regularly in the winter weather consider scheduling a physical exam before that winter work begins.
Common sense and self-awareness are the keys to winter weather safety. Workers should know the signs of hypothermia, not push their bodies to an extreme, layer clothing and make sure they have plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
Recognize Home Heating Dangers
Every year, more than 400 people die in the U.S. from accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces. CO can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it.
“Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths with half of home heating fires occurring during the months of December, January and February. That is why it’s so important to have your furnace, wood burning stoves, fireplaces and chimneys inspected and cleaned by licensed professionals every year. Test all smoke and CO alarms in the homes monthly and replace expired or broken alarms. Having these heating devices checked and serviced will help prevent fires and tragedies from occurring in our communities this winter,” said State Fire Marshal Matt Perez.
Ice and Snow, Take it Slow
Preparing for winter also means adjusting your driving habits. Snowy or ice-coated roads and reduced visibility due to fog or blowing snow results in thousands of motor vehicle crashes every year in Illinois. Many of these crashes can be avoided by slowing down on city streets, rural roads and highways. Traffic studies have shown that many times, minor accumulations of snow or ice on roads can be just as dangerous for motorists as major snowstorms.
“As we head into winter, the preparations and planning you do today can save your life in the months ahead,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “Pack an emergency kit to store in your vehicle. Build extra time in your schedules if you are driving this winter. Give our plows and workers room to do their jobs. And always be asking yourself when the forecast calls for snow and ice: Is this trip really necessary?”
For the latest road conditions and other travel information, bookmark and follow IDOT’s www.GettingAroundIllinois.com throughout the year.
Keep in mind, being prepared for winter doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. It could be as simple as making sure your vehicle is in good winter driving condition, adding a winter survival kit to your car, changing your furnace filter at home and stocking or updating your family’s emergency supply kit. Take time now to prepare your family, home, vehicles and driving habits for everything from a dusting of snow to a major winter storm.
For more information about winter weather preparedness, including the Weathering Winter guide from the Illinois Department of Public Health, visit the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.
Community Based COVID-19 testing is now available at Market
Place Shopping Center (2000 N. Neil Street Champaign, IL)
Testing site is located in the parking lot on the East side of the mall - Enter through the South mall entrance off of Market Street.
8:00am – 4:00pm (7 days a week while daily supplies last)
All individuals with symptoms are encouraged to seek testing at the Community-Based Testing
Sites (CBTS). Additional accommodations have been made for the following individuals with or
without COVID-like symptoms:
Employees of Correctional Facilities
Individuals exposed to confirmed COVID-19 patients
Employees that support Critical Infrastructure (grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, gas
stations, public utilities, factories, childcare and sanitation)
All local and state government employees
Individuals with compromised immune systems, chronic medical conditions
Definition of symptoms - fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell.
This is a FREE service that can be obtained without a doctor’s referral or code. While this is a free service, you will be asked to show 1) photo identification and 2) healthcare employee or first responder ID/badge, if applicable.
The test is self-administered, quick and painless with a 10-15 second swab inside of each nostril.
Patients utilizing drive-thru testing sites must be seated at a functioning window. Once you get in line at the CBTS, you will not be permitted to exit your car. For the safety of the testing personnel, drive-thru sites will not be able to accommodate walk-up individuals.
Please note - Patients receiving required pre-surgery or pre-procedure testing should receive that test as directed by their doctor’s office to avoid delays.
Note - According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the self-administered nasal swab has the same sensitivity to detect coronavirus as the nasopharyngeal swab. The nasal swab is also CDC approved.
Champaign, Urbana, and Champaign County Leaders
Issue COVID-19 Statement
As local government leaders, our top priorities are the health, safety, and welfare of our residents, visitors, and employees. We know COVID-19 (coronavirus) will impact our community. While the full extent remains uncertain, we know that we must all take immediate steps to slow the spread of the virus today.
Our government agencies are also working to ensure that the delivery of essential public services continues. We are taking all necessary steps to make sure we continue to deliver critical police, fire, and emergency dispatch services and maintain public infrastructure. Our agencies have taken measures to appropriately equip our first responders to protect themselves and those they serve. We continue to work closely with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District to make sure the public has accurate and up-to-date information.
Government leaders and public health officials across Champaign County remain in constant communication to ensure we are addressing this concern together. We call on all members of our community to join us in taking any and all measures possible to slow the spread of this virus. Some actions you can take include:
• Follow public health guidelines regarding proper hygiene
• Stay home if you are ill
• Avoid large public gatherings.
We are also deciding which government-sponsored events and meetings will be postponed or canceled in order to reduce public exposure to the virus. For information about cancelations of city or county meetings please visit our respective websites: champaignil.gov, urbanaillinois.us, or co.champaign.il.us.
For more detailed information, we encourage our community to consult reputable sources of information, including the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Facebook page or the Illinois Department of Public Health or Centers for Disease Control websites.
The situation is continuously changing and we ask for your patience as we work to slow the spread of this virus and provide essential services to the community. We will provide updates on our Facebook pages and websites.
Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen, City of Champaign
Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin, City of Urbana
County Executive Darlene Kloeppel, Champaign County
National Weather Service Lincoln IL
1137 AM February 21, 2020
THE NOAA WEATHER RADIO TRANSMITTER IN CHAMPAIGN ILLINOIS WILL
BE OUT OF SERVICE FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME
The NOAA Weather Radio station, WXJ-76 in Champaign, Illinois broadcasting on a frequency of 162.550 MHz that serves east- central Illinois, will be out of service for an extended period of time, effective immediately.
This outage is due to a damaged coaxial cable, which connects the radio transmitter to the antenna. To prevent future damage to cabling, which could result in additional future long-term outages, a new tower location must be secured. The station will remain offline as the National Weather Service (NWS) works to relocate the radio transmitter to a new tower.
We have started the process of identifying possible new tower locations for the transmitter.
Once a new tower site is identified and a lease agreement is in place, we will install the transmitter and antenna, and begin system testing to ensure the signal is performing at an optimal level. While the entire process county take up to six months, we are working to get the NOAA Weather Radio broadcast online as soon as possible.
For access to NOAA Weather Radio during the outage, tune-in to one of our nearby NOAA Weather Radio stations:
* Champaign County, unfortunately, is not covered by
another weather radio. This is especially true for the
cities of Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy. However, the
following areas of the county might be able to hear
certain weather radios. Northwest...KZZ-65 in
Bloomington, IL (162.525 MHz or channel 6 on your weather
radio). Northeast...KXI-86 in Crescent City, IL (162.500
MHz or channel 5). Southeast...KXI-47 in Paris, IL
(162.525 MHz or channel 6). Due to limited coverage,
these weather radios will not be tone alerted for
* Coles, Douglas and Edgar counties can receive severe
weather warnings on station KXI-47 in Paris, IL (162.525
MHz or channel 6 on your weather radio)
* DeWitt County is covered by KZZ-65 in Bloomington, IL
(162.525 MHz or channel 6). Residents of southwest DeWitt
County are also covered by WXJ-75 in Springfield, IL
(162.400 MHz or channel 1)
* Ford County is covered by WXK-24 in Odell, IL (162.450
MHz or channel 3) for all but southeast Ford County.
There is also coverage from KXI-86 in Crescent City, IL
(162.500 MHz or channel 5) for all but southwest Ford
* Northeast Macon County is covered by KZZ-65 in
Bloomington, IL (162.525 MHz or channel 6).
* Moultrie County is covered by station KXI-46 near
Shelbyville, IL (162.500 MHz or channel 5)
* Piatt County (Northern half roughly) is covered by KZZ-65
in Bloomington, IL (162.525 MHz or channel 6).
* Northern Vermilion County is covered by KXI-86 in
Crescent City (162.500 MHz or channel 5). The rest of
Vermilion County is covered by KZZ-27 in Newport, IN
(162.425 MHz or channel 2)
As always, we HIGHLY recommend that people have multiple ways to receive
weather warnings and information. Forecasts, watches and warnings for
Central Illinois can also be found on:
* NWS Lincoln webpage: www.weather.gov/Lincoln
* Mobile device: mobile.weather.gov
* Facebook: www.facebook.com/NWSLincoln
* Twitter: twitter.com/NWSLincolnIL
* AlertSense: A service provided by Champaign County can
relay emergency alerts and weather warnings via text
message to cell phones and email to any email address.
These alerts are provided free of charge, however
standard text messaging rates and other charges may
apply. To sign-up, go to: https://public.alertsense.com/SignUp/?regionid=1157
* Smart Phones: Most smart phone users receive Tornado
Warnings and Flash Flood Warnings from the National
Weather Service through the Wireless Emergency Alerts
technology provided by nearly all cell phone providers.
This feature is enabled on most cellular devices, with no
setup or software to download. The emergency messages
are broadcast through cell towers at no cost to the
We will provide updates on the status of the Central Illinois NOAA Weather Radio Transmitter through Public Information Statements as more Information becomes available.
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