SPRINGFIELD – With the holiday shopping season now underway, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) have a few gift suggestions that can protect your loved ones during emergencies.
“After the severe winter storms we had last year, I think people are more aware of the importance of being prepared for the unexpected,” said IEMA director Andrew Velasquez III. “Being without heat and electricity during frigid winter weather isn’t just an inconvenience, it can be extremely dangerous if you’re not adequately prepared. I believe a preparedness gift, like a weather radio, a flashlight with extra batteries, or a car emergency kit, would be greatly appreciated by a friend or loved one this holiday season.”
One example of how useful preparedness gifts can be was seen in late November 2006, when an ice and snow storm left nearly half of the state covered with either record snowfalls or heavy ice accumulations. Thousands of people in some areas were without power in freezing temperatures for up to 10 days
Velasquez offered several preparedness gift ideas, including:
• NOAA Weather Alert radios with extra batteries
• A disaster kit for the home, office or dormitory with such items as a first aid kit, bottled water (a gallon per person/per day – three day minimum), non-perishable food, blankets, flashlight and batteries
• A safety kit for the automobile with such items as jumper cables, flashlight, blankets, sand and a small shovel
• A portable generator
State Fire Marshal Dave Foreman says home safety gifts, such as smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers, are also thoughtful presents that are proven to save lives.
“If you know someone who doesn’t have a working smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector in their home, these items should be at the top of your gift list,” said Foreman. “Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are both proven life-savers, and what could be a better gift than something that protects the lives of the ones you love?”
Foreman noted that the gifts will help friends and loved ones comply with Illinois law, which requires that working smoke alarms be placed within 15 feet of every sleeping area and be maintained in working order. Since Jan. 1, 2007, state law also requires all buildings that use fossil fuel and have sleeping rooms or have an attached garage to have an approved, operating carbon monoxide detector installed within 15 feet of any sleeping area. Homes that have all electric appliances and do not have a fireplace or an attached garage are exempt from the requirements.
Other fire safety and prevention gift ideas suggested by the State Fire Marshal include ABC-rated fire extinguishers, foldable ladders for second-story emergency escapes, and flameless scented candles.
Most preparedness and gift items can be found in hardware and department stores.
For additional information on emergency preparedness visit the IEMA website at www.state.il.us/iema. The OSFM website at www.state.il.us/osfm offers more information about fire safety.
IEMA and OSFM are partners in Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s Keep Warm Illinois campaign, a comprehensive effort to inform and prepare Illinois residents for winter with information on energy assistance, home weatherization and winter safety tips. The Keep Warm Illinois website (www.keepwarm.illinois.gov) offers various no-cost and low-cost energy saving tips, a web-based tool to conduct a home energy audit, links to energy assistance programs and other resources. In addition, the Keep Warm Illinois hotline (1-877-411-WARM) is another resource for Illinois residents to learn how to save energy and get energy assistance.