Back-to-School Is Time to Review Emergency Preparedness Plans

SPRINGFIELD – As millions of children and college students go back to school this month, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) recommends that all families review their own emergency preparedness plans and school safety plans. Whether your children are in school, on a bus, at music practice, or with their traveling sports league teams, planning and shared information is critical.  

“Severe weather and other emergencies can happen at any time,” said IEMA Deputy Director Scott Swinford. “Parents should especially discuss with their children where to go for shelter, who to communicate with, and how to communicate with them during an emergency.”

Here are some tips to better prepare for the upcoming school year: 

  • Teach children with cell phones about “Text First, Talk Later.” The “IM OK” text message gets through phone congestion easier than phone calls do.
  • Explain the basics of weather preparedness for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, fire evacuation, flash flooding, etc.
  • Make a family communications plan.
  • Update your emergency contact information on file at your child’s school.
  • Consider adding a relative or trusted friend to the school’s information file as they may have to pick your kids up during an emergency.
  • Fill out a backpack emergency card for your student’s backpack and your wallet.
  • Learn more about school plans for disaster or emergency reunification.
  • Encourage young students to take emergency drills seriously and ask questions to help them remember what to do.
  • Encourage any college student to make a disaster preparedness kit.
  • Speak to college students about ensuring that they are signed up for weather alerts and opt-in alert warning services at college.
  • Download and discuss the free Safe2Help Illinois helpline and app.

Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA): www.Ready.Illinois.gov