SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today issued a state disaster proclamation for Morgan County after a weekend ice storm downed trees and power lines, blocking streets and leaving nearly 10,000 homes without power. The proclamation enables the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to coordinate state resources to support local governments in their disaster response and recovery efforts.
“While many parts of central Illinois experienced freezing rain and ice this weekend, the Morgan County area took the brunt of the storm,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “The Illinois Emergency Management Agency has been in close contact with officials in Morgan County throughout the weekend, and is working to ensure that they get the help needed to keep people safe.”
The Governor also said the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield is partially activated to coordinate with local emergency management officials in Morgan County and surrounding areas to determine if state assistance is needed to recover from this weekend’s ice storm that left nearly 10,000 homes without electricity. The SEOC is also monitoring weather forecasts for the next few days and contacting emergency management officials in areas that could experience bad weather to ensure they have the resources needed to deal with the impending storms.
Representatives from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) and the American Red Cross (ARC) reported to the SEOC this morning to assess resources available to assist in areas affected by the ice storm, as well as prepare for potential icy weather predicted in several parts of the state through Thursday morning.
Gov. Blagojevich reminded residents to use extreme caution during and after the storms. Anyone experiencing a power outage at their home should observe the following safety tips:
- Dress warmly and in layers.
- Do not use candles to light or heat a home. Make sure you have flashlights and extra batteries for lighting darkened homes.
- Never use a barbecue grill indoors.
- Never attempt to heat your home with an oven.
- If using a fireplace, ensure the flue is fully vented to prevent fumes from building up in the house.
- Exercise caution when using generators. The primary hazards with generators are carbon monoxide poisoning from engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution, and fire. Portable generators should never be used indoors, including in a garage, carport, basement, crawlspace or other enclosed or partially-enclosed area, even with ventilation. Be sure to turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.
- Stay indoors as much as possible.
- Listen to the radio or television for weather reports and emergency information.
- If you have no heat, close off unneeded rooms and place towels or rags under the doors.
- Hang blankets over windows at night, but let the sun shine in during the day.
- Eat to supply heat, and drink non-alcoholic beverages to avoid dehydration.
- Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet away from flammable objects.
In addition, during power outages, the following food safety guidelines are important:
- Meat, poultry and milk need to be at 40 degrees or below.
- An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold enough for at least a couple hours.
- If power outage will be prolonged, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
- Never taste food to see if it is spoiled. When in doubt, throw it out.
With additional icy weather predicted for some parts of the state, people are advised to avoid traveling if at all possible while road conditions remain hazardous. Use public transportation if possible, but if you must drive your vehicle remember these safety tips:
- Check the latest weather conditions along your travel route. Check out the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT)’s road conditions hotline at 1-800-452-IDOT to get current road conditions for Illinois’ interstate and freeway systems. IDOT also maintains a road condition Web site at http://www.gettingaroundillinois.com.
- Check your wipers, tires, lights and fluid levels (radiator, windshield washer, power steering, oil and brakes).
- Travel during daylight hours on main roads and don’t travel alone.
- Carry a winter survival kit in your vehicle, including a cell phone, blankets, flashlight and extra batteries, first aid kit, warm clothing, and water and non-perishable snack foods.
- Drive slower and increase your following distance.
- Watch for slick spots.
- If you become stranded on the road, pull as far off the road as possible, call for help and stay in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you. Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow, then run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm.