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.
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.
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