From ice storms and earthquakes, to flooding and tornadoes, Illinois has its share of emergencies. September is National Preparedness Month, and as Acting Director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), I want to encourage all Illinoisans to spend a few moments during this month to prepare for potential disasters, both natural and man-made.
A disaster can strike at any time and anywhere: When you are at home, at work or while you are traveling on vacation. Today, preparedness is more than building a kit. Community resiliency is achieved when neighbors help neighbors plan for and respond to emergencies. Building a culture of preparedness is the cornerstone of disaster preparedness.
National Preparedness Month is recognized each September as a way to promote family and community disaster and emergency planning. This is a great time to learn lifesaving skills – such as CPR and first aid, check your insurance policies and coverage for hazards such as floods, earthquakes and tornadoes. Make sure to consider the costs associated with disasters and develop a plan to save for an emergency. Also, know how to perform practical safety steps like shutting off the water and gas in your home.
Many people have the mindset that ‘it can’t happen here,’ but history has shown we are all vulnerable to disasters. As you prepare for the unexpected, tailor your plans to your daily needs and responsibilities. Keep in mind the different ages of the members in your household, medical needs including prescriptions and equipment, and don’t forget your pets. Remember, there is no one more capable of planning for your situation than you.
In this day and age of families constantly on the go, it is critical for people to have multiple ways to receive notifications and updated information about severe weather warnings. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (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.
Finally, one disaster that many people do not think about is earthquakes. The largest earthquake to ever rattle North America occurred in 1811 near southern Illinois, along the New Madrid Seismic Zone. If a similar quake struck the same area today, the region’s hospitals, roads, bridges, and critical infrastructure would be severely impacted. That’s why each year, our state participates in the Great Central U.S. Shakeout. This annual earthquake drill is designed to teach the protective actions of: DROP to the floor, take COVER under a sturdy desk or table, and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. This year’s earthquake drill will take place on October 17 at 10:17am. Register your participation today at www.shakeout.org.
For more information about emergency and disaster preparedness, I encourage you to visit ready.illinois.gov. Ready Illinois is a one-stop resource for detailed information about what to do before, during and after disasters.