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December 3, 2008

Blagojevich Administration Unveils Disaster Preparedness Guide for Senior Citizens and People with Disabilities
Tips will help people with special needs and their families stay safe when emergencies happen

SPRINGFIELD – In recognition of International Day for Persons with Disabilities, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the availability of a new comprehensive preparedness guide for senior citizens, people with physical limitations and those with other special needs.  The guidebook outlines important steps people with functional needs should take to stay safe when a disaster or emergency arises.


“While everyone needs to be prepared for emergencies, it’s particularly important for people with special needs,” said Governor Blagojevich.  “A few moments spent on preparedness today could save your life or the life of a loved one when disaster strikes.”


The guidebook, Emergency Preparedness Tips for Those with Functional Needs, was developed by a team of emergency management and health professionals in conjunction with the Illinois Terrorism Task Force.  Preparedness tips are provided for people with visual, cognitive, or mobility impairments, citizens who are deaf or hard of hearing, those who utilize service animals or life support systems, and seniors.


The booklet also contains guidelines for preparing a disaster supply kit, a cut-out emergency health information card, contact information for agencies providing services to special needs people, and a copy of the Federal Emergency Management Agency/American Red Cross Guide, Preparing for Disasters for People with Disabilities and other Special Needs.


The new guidebook joins a wealth of other emergency preparedness information on the state’s Ready Illinois website (www.ready.illinois.gov).  The Ready Illinois website was launched by the Blagojevich administration in September 2007 to provide a one-stop location for comprehensive information on steps people can take before emergencies happen, what to do once a disaster has occurred, and tips for recovery after the event. 


In addition, during large-scale disasters, details about shelters, volunteer opportunities, public safety messages and other related issues can be updated regularly to provide people with easy access to needed information.  The Ready Illinois website was used extensively during severe flooding this summer to provide current information to people affected by the floods.


Illinois has one of the best emergency preparedness programs in the nation, but personal preparedness is an important part of the overall preparedness picture,” said Andrew Velasquez III, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.  “This new guidebook will help people with special needs and those who care for them to be better prepared for every type of emergency.”


Emergency Preparedness Tips for Those with Functional Needs is available on the state’s Ready Illinois website or by calling 217-558-1334.


“The Department of Human Services provides services to help people with disabilities live independently and this manual is an important resource to ensure their safety in the event of an emergency,” said Robert F. Kilbury, director of the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Rehabilitation Services. 


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