February is Earthquake Preparedness Month

 Knowing what to do before, during, and after an earthquake is essential.

Before The Quake

First and foremost, prepare your family. 72-hour kits are a must have for any disaster. Your 72-hour kit should supply you with enough resources so you and your family will make it through the first three days following a major earthquake. A good kit includes:

  • Water
  • Non-perishable food(s)
  • First aid kit
  • Blanket
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Books, toys, games to keep everyone occupied
  • Complete change of clothing
  • Portable radio with extra batteries
  • Important documents
  • Special needs (medications, prescriptions, supplies for the elderly and young) 

Also before an earthquake, make sure you secure anything that could tumble to the ground. This includes TVs, microwaves, computers, and other electronics. Don’t forget to anchor your bookshelves to the walls. Other things to anchor securely are filing cabinets, china cabinets, and tall furniture. Avoid placing heavy objects about your bed or other areas in which you may be sitting.

During the Quake

Basically, you’ll want to:

  • Drop to your hands and knees.
  • Cover your head and neck with your arms.  This will help protect you from falling objects.
  • Hold on to anything sturdy until the shaking stops.
  • Stay away from windows, glass, and anything that could fall.
  • If you are in a car, stay inside until the tremors are over.

After the Quake

  • Although the earthquake has stopped, there are still dangers. Make sure you proceed with caution in the immediate aftermath of the quake.
  • Check for injuries.
  • Wear Shoes to avoid cutting your feet on broken glass or other debris.
  • Do not turn on lights or use electrical appliances inside your home until you know there is no gas leak. 
  • Use cellular network to communicate.  Texting can sometimes get through busy networks where phone calls fail.

Earthquakes can be devastating, but with the proper preparation and knowledge, you can still be safe and comfortable during the days that follow. Take the time to prepare now, so when an earthquake does happen, you will be ready and able to help yourself, your family, and your community.


Winter Weather Preparedness

Before winter approaches, add the following supplies to your emergency kit:
         o Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways.
         o Sand to improve traction.
         o Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
         o Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular
             fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood
             for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
         o Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.


Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.

A NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts alerts and warnings directly from the NWS for all hazards. You may also sign up in advance to receive notifications from your local emergency services.
Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.


Winterize Your Vehicle
Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
 • Antifreeze levels - ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
 • Battery and ignition system - should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
 • Brakes - check for wear and fluid levels.
 • Exhaust system - check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary.
 • Fuel and air filters - replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
 • Heater and defroster - ensure they work properly.
 • Lights and flashing hazard lights - check for serviceability.
 • Oil - check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
 • Thermostat - ensure it works properly.
 • Windshield wiper equipment - repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
 • Install good winter tires - Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.

Update the emergency kits in your vehicles with:
 Shovel  *  Flashlight  *  Windshield scraper and small broom

 Battery powered radio  *  Water Extra batteries   *  Snack food(s)

 Matches  *  Extra hats, socks and mittens  *  Blanket(s)

 First aid kit with pocket knife  *  Necessary medications 

 Tow chain or rope  *  Road salt and sand  *  Booster cables    

 Emergency flares  *  Fluorescent distress flag

Winterize Your Home
• Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
• Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
• Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.
• Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
• All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.
• Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
• Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
• Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
• Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow - or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.

Know the Terms
Know the terms used to describe changing winter weather conditions and what actions to take. These terms can be used to determine the timeline and severity of an approaching storm. (Advisory / Watch / Warning). The NWS also issues advisories and warnings for other winter weather, including blizzards, freezes, wind chill, lake effect snow, and dense fog. Be alert to weather reports and tune in for specific guidance when these conditions develop.
Freezing Rain - Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
Sleet - Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
Wind Chill - Windchill is the temperature it “feels like” when you are outside. The NWS provides a Windchill Chart to show the difference between air temperature and the perceived temperature and the amount of time until frostbite occurs.
Winter Weather Advisory - Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening. The NWS issues a winter weather advisory when conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences that may be hazardous. If caution is used, these situations should not be life-threatening.
Winter Storm Watch - A winter storm is possible in your area. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information. The NWS issues a winter storm watch when severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow and/or ice, may affect your area but the location and timing are still uncertain. A winter storm watch is issued 12 to 36 hours in advance of a potential severe storm. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio, TV, or other news sources for more information. Monitor alerts, check your emergency supplies, and gather any items you may need if you lose power.
Winter Storm Warning - A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.
Blizzard Warning - Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.
Frost/Freeze Warning - Below freezing temperatures are expected.





Are you Prepared?


McHenry County Emergency Management Agency would like to remind you that now is the perfect time to review your Family’s Emergency Plan and check the supplies in your Emergency Kit or to take some time and create these life-saving tools. We all know first-hand the impact severe weather can have, whether it is flooding, winter weather or heat advisory. No matter what the disaster is, there are simple preparedness steps that anyone can take to protect themselves and their loved ones in a time of need. To assist the community with this effort the Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin Regional Catastrophic Planning Team (IL-IN-WI RCPT) has launched Gear Up, Get Ready campaign to encourage households to take key steps in family preparedness. This mission encompasses 19 counties and communities in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

By taking a few simple steps ahead of time, you and your family can be ready when disaster strikes:

  1. Make a Family Emergency Plan decide how you will reconnect with each other, list important information and phone numbers and discuss the plan with all members and post it in your home where visitors can view it. 
  2. Gather supplies for an Emergency Kit and put them in one place to meet your family’s needs for three days. You may already have three days of food already within your home. Top five items include, water, non-perishable food, battery powered radio, flashlight & extra batteries and a first aid kit. Be sure to meet the specific needs of your family and pets. 
Simple templates for Family Emergency Plan and Emergency Contact Cards as well as Emergency Kit checklists are available at www.GearUpGetReady.org


211 in McHenry County

The 211 service streamlines access to health and human services for McHenry County residents. When an individual needs information or referral services for which they have little or no prior knowledge or experience, dialing 211 is a simple option. Once the individual dials 211, they will be connected to a call center where they will speak to a professional information and referral specialist who will refer or connect the caller to the appropriate agency.

2-1-1 Illinois