IEMA: Parents Should Include Emergency Preparedness In Back-To-School Plans

The following is some helpful emergency preparedness advice for parents (not just in Illinois) with kids in school. From an Illinois Emergency Management Agency press release on the Illinois Government News Network website last Friday:

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 with cell phones 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.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)


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Chicago Tribune: ‘As Many As 40 Oil Trains Come Through Chicago And The Suburbs Each Week’

My girlfriend likes the popular getaway destination of Galena, Illinois (never been there myself). So she was concerned last week when breaking news appeared on the TV screen about a BNSF Railway train carrying 103 tank cars laden with crude oil derailing and exploding in that northwest part of the state.

Luckily, the incident occurred in a sparsely-populated area (no injuries reported).

But it’s been revealed that the tank cars that burst into flames had already been retrofitted with protective shields to meet a higher safety standard than federal law requires.

Richard Wronski reported in my Sunday paper (the Chicago Tribune) yesterday:

The fiery train derailment Thursday near Galena should serve as a wake-up call for the state and the Chicago area to be better prepared in the event of a similar incident in the metropolitan area, officials said…

Had the incident occurred in the city or suburbs, it would have forced the evacuation of thousands of people and caused enormous damage, officials said…

Documents filed with the state and obtained by the Tribune last year show that as many as 40 oil trains come through Chicago and the suburbs each week

Few Chicago-area fire departments have enough firefighting foam and equipment to respond effectively to the kind of roaring infernos that have resulted from tank car derailments, the Tribune reported last year…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Well that’s disturbing to read (hat tip Wronski and the Tribune for digging this info up).

As regular readers may remember, my girlfriend and I moved out of the city a year-and-a-half ago to one of the northwest suburbs, where a set of railroad tracks (frequently used by freight) is located about a half-mile away.

This event has indeed been a “wake-up call.” I really need to investigate if a potential hazardous materials incident exists with that rail line. And plan accordingly.

Chicago-area readers might want to do the same if they haven’t already.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)


Wronksi, Richard. “Galena derailment should put Chicago on alert, officials say.” Chicago Tribune. 8 Mar. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-crude-oil-train-derailment-met-20150306-story.html). 8 Mar. 2015


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When Mandatory Evacuations Are Enforced

From the CBS News website this past Monday:

Wildfires force more evacuations as officials say looters targeting victims

Crews in northern Colorado faced powerful winds Sunday as they battled a blaze that has scorched 87 square miles of mountainous forest land and destroyed at least 181 homes, the most in state history. Meanwhile, local authorities are focusing on another concern — looting.

Looting. When I see this word, I think L.A. Riots, 1992. New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, 2005.

But this report out of Colorado makes it twice this year I’ve come across looting-related stories here in the United States. I wrote back on March 6:

I’d heard the rumors- looters are popping up in Indiana and Kentucky, taking advantage of the damage and chaos caused by recent severe weather in parts of the Midwest. And then I came across this excerpt from an article that appeared on MSNBC.com last night:

In hard-hit areas, National Guard troops manned checkpoints on roads and outside towns, and were inspecting identity documents of those seeking to enter damaged areas in Indiana and Kentucky following reports of looting.

According to law enforcement officials, looting did happen in Indiana and Kentucky, with the looters coming from as far away as Ohio.


I know what some of you might be thinking…

Death to all looters.

Oh, that’s not it? Perhaps it’s…

Mandatory evacuation or not, there’s no way I’ll ever leave my home to the mercy of looters.

The thing is, “mandatory evacuation” means just that sometimes.

In the days following Hurricane Katrina’s landfall, the following appeared on the CNN website on September 7, 2005:

New Orleans’ mayor ordered law enforcement agencies Tuesday night to remove everyone from the city who is not involved in cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina, whether they want to go or not.

Mayor Ray Nagin instructed all public safety officers “to compel the evacuation of all persons … regardless of whether such persons are on private property or do not desire to leave,” according to a written statement from his office…

Many residents have refused to leave New Orleans despite a mandatory evacuation and warnings from government officials that staying in the flooded city represents a health risk…

“These citizens will have to be removed for their own good,” Police Superintendent Eddie Compass told CNN.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“Woman uses gun on police to stop evacuation from home”
YouTube Video

The reality is, mandatory evacuations can become “forced evacuations,” especially in the aftermath of some disaster. I emphasize the word “can,” as you may recall New York City ordered a mandatory evacuation for some residents in advance of Hurricane Irene last August, but forced evacuations never came into play.

It’s only a matter of time before the next mandatory evacuation is announced somewhere in the United States. And one of these days, it could get so bad that the authorities feel compelled to enforce it again. Having your own evacuation plan in place, with a location of your choosing outside the probable evacuation area, is probably a good idea. Those with bug-out plans/bug-out locations (BOLs) are already in good shape.


“Wildfires force more evacuations as officials say looters targeting victims.” CBS News. 18 June 2012. (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57454964/wildfires-force-more-evacuations-as-officials-say-looters-targeting-victims/). 22 June 2012.

“New Orleans will force evacuations.” CNN. 7 Sep. 2005. (http://articles.cnn.com/2005-09-06/us/katrina.impact_1_force-evacuations-mayor-ray-nagin-new-orleans/2?_s=PM:US) 22 June 2012.


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Make A Plan, Continued

Since the end of August/early September, I’ve been blogging more consistently on Survival And Prosperity. However, most of the material has focused on new surprises and obstacles that have emerged with the global financial system, the U.S. economy, our society, the list goes on. Add this to the challenges already in place… and protecting and growing self and wealth gets more difficult.

Still, I hope the ideas discussed in this blog might contribute to these efforts.

With that being said, I’d like to take back up the topic of general preparedness, and resurrect an American Red Cross publication I last talked about on April 27 (my how time flies). I wrote:

Since March, I’ve been talking about the American Red Cross information sheet “Be Red Cross Ready,” a terrific launching-point for those wanting to prepare for future emergencies and disasters, and those three vital actions that can make all the difference in such events- be informed, make a plan, and get a kit. I’ve focused on “be informed” the past couple of weeks. Now let’s move on to “make a plan.”

In that April post, I republished what the Red Cross said about making a plan. I also said that I’d discuss those points in more detail. Today I’d like to do that.

First, there’s evacuating from the neighborhood in an emergency. From the sheet:

Choose two places to meet:

• Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire
Outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

When putting together the neighborhood evacuation plan, consider the following:

• Pick a meeting place outside the neighborhood that is easily-identifiable and accessible by foot, if possible. A friend’s/relative’s home could be ideal (be sure to talk to them about your plans though). A hotel/motel works too, but keep in mind there might not be any vacancies in the event of an emergency. Keep their contact info handy to book a room ASAP.
• If pets will be along for the journey, make sure the friend/relative knows about your companion. If you decide to go the hotel/motel route, check beforehand to make sure the accommodations are pet-friendly, or identify animal shelters along the evacuation route and nearby your destination if not.
• Plan two (2) routes for each direction (North, South, East, and West), as there may be a number of obstacles (debris? bridge out?) in place during an emergency. Try to avoid common routes that may be congested in an emergency.
• Plot all this information on maps and distribute them to each member of the household, who should then keep them readily-available. While electronic maps are nice, printed maps are less prone to being inaccessible.
• The household should practice evacuating the neighborhood twice a year and make note of any changes (construction sites?) that need to be made to the pre-planned evacuation routes.

Second, there’s the out-of-area emergency contact person. From the sheet:

Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

When selecting this individual, consider the following:

• The person should have voice mail or an answering machine
• In the event of an emergency, household members should listen to the radio/ watch TV for telephone use instructions, then phone the out-of-area contact person to say how and where they are, and what their plans are
• The call should be kept short, and arrange to call the contact person back at a specified time for another check-in, if possible
• Incorporate the latest communications technology (e-mail, texting) accordingly

The remainder of “make a plan” was pretty straightforward. Feel free to leave a comment with your suggestions as it relates to this section of the American Red Cross’ “Be Red Cross Ready” information sheet.


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