Be prepared when disaster strikes

URBANA, Ill. – Disasters don't operate on a schedule, but pre-planning can help families and communities prepare for unexpected emergencies. A series of five workshops by University of Illinois Extension will outline proactive steps to take before, during, and after a disaster. 

"Knowing where to begin with an emergency preparedness plan can be overwhelming and time-consuming, but being prepared can also save lives," says Kristin Bogdonas, Illinois Extension educator. 

The free online workshops begin Aug. 1 and will be held weekly at noon throughout August. Register prior to each workshop at go.illinois.edu/BePrepared. If a reasonable accommodation is needed to participate, contact Bogdonas at kmbogdo@illinois.edu

"The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends that individuals and families prepare to be on their own for at least 72 hours after a disaster occurs," says Bogdonas. 

Workshop topics and dates include:

  • Creating an emergency kit and family communication plan: Aug. 1
  • Securing emergency food and water: Aug. 8
  • Identifying emergency food assistance programs and resources: Aug. 15
  • Managing storm-damaged trees: Aug. 22
  • Being financially prepared for emergencies: Aug. 29

"When emergencies occur, it could be days or weeks before power is restored," says Bogdonas. "Tornadoes, floods, fires, blizzards, pandemics, and earthquakes all present a risk to a safe and secure food supply in Illinois. Having an emergency supply of food and water on hand is important to keep you and your family fed and hydrated until help arrives."

Temperature control, sanitation, and shelf-life impact food safety after a power outage, flood, or fire. 

"Hunger doesn’t discriminate," says Bogdonas. "Many people in America are just one job loss, illness, or missed paycheck away from hunger. There are local, state, and national programs available to meet the needs of the population in an emergency."

Extension also recommends documenting financial information and contacts before an emergency to streamline the recovery process and protect families from financial fraud. 

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.

SOURCE: Kristin Bogdonas, Illinois Extension Nutritional and Wellness Educator
WRITER: Judy Mae Bingman, Illinois Extension Marketing and Communications Manager