MCESDA Disaster Digest2020-12-04T17:51:55+00:00

MCESDA Disaster Digest

Heat Advisory in Effect

A Heat Advisory is in effect until Thursday at 8pm. Heat index values of 100 to 105 expected this afternoon and evening, and again Thursday afternoon and evening.

Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should NEVER be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.
This is the perfect time refresh your knowledge of heat-related illness and return to our blog post about Excessive Heat, which can be found here.

By |July 28th, 2021|

Summer Bummers III: Fire Safety

Today’s summer preparedness topic is burns.  No, not sunburns, though plenty of those happen as well.  Summer has the highest frequency of severe burns, mostly due to outdoor activities.  The US Fire Administration has put together some important safety tips on how to celebrate the summer holidays without a trip to the ER.

Grilling and Firepits

  • Always grill outside to prevent both fires and smoke inhalation.
  • Let the Grillmaster cook in peace!  Keep a 3ft distance between the grill and any other objects or guests, especially kids and pets.
  • Stay within line of sight of your grill or firepit, or really any open flame
  • Make sure to light your grill after opening the lid.
  • Clean your grill or firepit regularly, and empty out charcoal into a metal can (once cooled).


First, it is important to note that even legal fireworks can be very dangerous.  Even a simple “sparkler” can become as hot as 1200°F.  The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch them performed by trained professionals, such as the ones that will be hosted in Macomb for the 4th of July (information here).  It is also important to note that there are fireworks that may be legal in other states, but illegal in Illinois, including bottle rockets and roman candles.  For more statistics regarding fireworks hazards, see this interesting report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission: Fireworks Report 2018

Treating Burns

Prevention is obviously preferred, but sometimes accidents happen anyway.  For initial first aid of a burn, run the wound under cool water for 3-5 minutes.  Then, wrap it up with a clean, dry cloth or sterile bandage.  See a doctor if the burn is larger than your palm or with any sign of infection (pus, oozing, not fading after 2 weeks).  Any burn that covers a critical part of the body, such as face, hands, feet or groin may need medical attention.  Most importantly, signs of charring or black skin is a sign of 3rd degree burn, which will definitely need emergency care.

Additional Resources

Grilling Fire Safety

Outdoor Fire Safety

Summertime Burn Safety Flyer

Summer Safety Flyer

By |June 22nd, 2021|

Summer Bummers Part II: Hydrate or Die-drate

Information adapted from the CDC

In the first part of our “Summer Bummers” series we discussed the hazards associated with exposure to heat.  One heat-related illness, dehydration, was a big enough topic that we felt it deserved it’s own post.  Dehydration can range from feeling slightly off and ill to a full-blown medical emergency, so it is crucial to know the signs before you venture out in the summer sun.

Why we need water

Water is crucial for body composition and performance of essential functions.  Fun fact: the average human body is comprised of 60% water!  This percent varies among body types, as children have a higher concentration of water than adults, and men have a higher concentration than women.  Water can be found all throughout the body, even in less squishy parts like bones.

A more scientific answer for why we need water, it’s important for cellular function.  Cells use water for transporting both nutrients and waste in a process called osmosis.  Excess minerals, like sodium, potassium, and calcium will be removed from the body through water, either through sweat or urine.  One of the wastes that cells can eliminate through water is excess heat, which is why we sweat during the summer or from vigorous exercise. Sweating too much, or merely not replacing the liquid we regularly lose due to urination and respiration, can cause dehydration.


Chronic dehydration can cause a slew of problems, including unclear thinking, mood change, constipation, and kidney stones.  Dehydration also increases the likelihood of heat-related illness, as described in our last post.  Fortunately, the signs of acute dehydration are rather easy to spot once you know them.  The biggest sign that you are beginning to feel dehydrated is feeling thirsty.  If your body is wanting water, drink it!  Other, perhaps less obvious signs are:

  • dark yellow and strong-smelling pee (see chart below)
  • feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • feeling tired
  • a dry mouth, lips and eyes
  • peeing little, and fewer than 4 times a day

If you are feeling any of these symptoms, it’s a good opportunity to drink more water before it becomes more serious.  Contrary to what you may have been taught, there is no set number for how many cups of water you should have per day to prevent dehydration.  6-8 cups per day may be a good estimate, but it is important to adjust this amount based on size, level of activity, external temperature and personal health variables (ex. diabetes, diarrhea, fevers, and other conditions require more water).  Again: drink water if you are thirsty!

Water During an Emergency

All of this is easy enough on a normal, “blue sky” day, but what about when drinking water is scarce?  Common disasters, such as floods, hurricanes or pipeline problems can limit the amount of available drinking water.  The CDC recommends having at least 1 gallon of water per person in your emergency kit.  If no stored bottled water is available, unscented chlorine at a concentration of 5-9% can also be used to help sanitize contaminated water.  Filtering and boiling your water (instructions can be found here from the EPA) can also do in a pinch.

Remember, water is a vital nutrient you need year round, but especially during the hot months.

Hydrate, don’t die-drate, McDonough County!


By |June 15th, 2021|

Summer Bummers Part 1: Heat Hazards

Information adapted from

“There are basically two seasons here: bitter winter, unbearable humidity”-Guy from Bojack Horseman speaking about Illinois weather

Back in the winter we spoke about cold weather hazards, covering hypothermia and more.  That winter weather feels so far behind us now, and with astronomical summer coming up and metrological summer well past, it’s time to talk about heat!  Summer weather brings about its own host of hazards, but fortunately they are easy to prepare for.  Today’s topic is specifically heat.  How hot is too hot and what makes it dangerous?  Let’s found out in the first part of our posts on “Summer Bummers”.

What is Excessive Heat?

We know that every summer is going to come with some uncomfortably warm weather that makes us want to turn on the air conditioning.  However, from an Emergency Preparedness standpoint, only days that reach excessively high temperatures warrant an “excessive heat” advisory.  An excessive heat advisory may be issued when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 100° or higher for at least 2 days without cooling off below 75° at night.  An advisory can be escalated to a “watch” if the temperature is expected to be over 105° for two days, and a “warning” if these conditions are almost certain or are already in effect.  The exact numbers can vary between locations, as some areas are more resilient to heat than others (think of Southern states, like Arizona, Nevada or Florida, compared to Alaska or Maine).

A Heat Index can be used to estimate the likelihood of heat complications


Less known than it’s opposite (hypothermia), hyperthermia is a condition where the body’s internal temperature is too high.  This term applies to several different conditions that occur when the body becomes too hot: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.  Each of these differ in severity, symptoms, and best course of action.

  • Heat Cramps
    • Symptoms: Painful muscle cramps and spasms usually in legs and abdomen and Heavy sweating.
    • First Aid: Apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gently massage to relieve spasm. Give sips of water unless the person complains of nausea, then stop giving water.  Seek medical attention if it persists over an hour
  • Heat Exhaustion
    • Symptoms: Heavy sweating, Weakness or tiredness, cool, pale, clammy skin; fast, weak pulse, muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, headache, fainting,
      First Aid: Move person to a cooler environment, preferably a well air conditioned room. Loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths or have person sit in a cool bath. Offer sips of water. If person vomits more than once, or if it persists more than an hour, seek medical attention.
  • Heat Stroke
    • Symptoms: Throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, body temperature above 103°F, hot, red, dry or damp skin, rapid and strong pulse, fainting, loss of consciousness.
    • First Aid: Call 911 or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency and can be fatal! Move the victim to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment. Reduce body temperature with cool cloths or bath. Use a fan if heat index temperatures are below the high 90s. A fan can make you hotter at higher temperatures. Do NOT give fluids.

Who is most vulnerable?

Anyone can be susceptible to hyperthermia and heat related complications.  Long exposures, such as a full day at the pool or a sporting event will increase the odds.  Strenuous activity will also increase the body’s temperature and make you more prone to hyperthermia.  Some populations are more vulnerable and should take extra precautions:

  • Young children- Similar to cold, their bodies are less able to adapt to heat than are adults.  Hot cars are the biggest heat-related danger to children, and an average of 38 children die of hyperthermia every year from being left in cars.
  • Older adults- Most heat-related fatalities are older adults, and the number of seniors dying from heat increase every year.  Seniors that live alone or are otherwise socially isolated are particularly vulnerable (as evident in the 1995 Chicago Heat Wave).
  • People with chronic medical conditions
  • Pregnant women are also at higher risk- Extreme heat events have been associated with adverse birth outcomes such as low birth weight, preterm birth, and infant mortality, as well as congenital cataracts.

The best means of preventing heat related risks is to reduce time outdoors.  Plan to stay inside on days with heat watches and warnings, and consider moving chores and activities that must be done outside to cooler parts of the day (morning and evening).  If you must be outside, take occasional indoor breaks to reduce your temperature.  Also, drink plenty of water, which we will cover in a future post, Summer Bummer Part II: Hydrate or Die-Drate!

Until next time, stay safe McDonough County

By |June 9th, 2021|

Tabletop Exercises

Information adapted from

Fortunately, larger emergencies do not happen on a regular basis.  The downside is that there are few opportunities to rehearse disaster response.  Exercises are a creative solution to this problem. Exercises are one way to take written plans and put them into action, testing their functionality before needing to use the plan during an emergency.  Exercises are also a way to take procedures for rare emergencies, such as tornadoes, active shooters, and more, and practice more frequently than real-world events occur.  Developing and hosting exercises are common activities for emergency managers, however every organization and business could benefit from a routine exercise schedule.  From simple tabletop discussions to more complicated full-scale exercises, there are many ways to enhance your disaster preparedness through practice.

Tabletop Exercises

If your organization has developed a new emergency plan, testing it with a tabletop exercise is a great place to start.  Tabletop exercises are a form of exercise where you talk through the disaster response.  Usually these involve a facilitator, who describes the scenario and then moderates discussion, and participants who have to respond with what they would do.  The facilitator may stop the scenario at key points to discuss certain stages of the disaster in detail, or add interjections and changes to the original scenario. Tabletops are more of a mental exercise, giving participants practice on making decisions in an emergency without the time or expenses of actually performing the operations.  The only downside to tabletop scenarios is that since they are discussion-based, it may be easy to “go through the motions”.  A good facilitator would encourage all participants to be honest about what they would do and their capacities to perform.

Functional Exercises

Functional exercises are a step up from tabletop exercises, as they ask the participants to have the same sort of discussions that occur in a tabletop, but with some simulated practice.   Usually these are designed to focus on one core capability, like communication or using a specific piece of equipment.  This core capability will be practiced like it is a real scenario, while other details will merely be simulated or talked through, like a tabletop.  This type of exercise can be very helpful for rehearsing phone communication chains or other multi-step procedures that require coordination.


Full-scale exercise are the most complicated type of exercise.  These require performing all of the emergency operations as if it were a real scenario.  This may mean using real equipment and performing tasks in real time.  It may require inviting many more participants than you would for tabletop or functional exercises, as you will want the full amount of personnel that would respond to the emergency, and depending on the scenario, extra volunteers to act as “victims” or bystanders.  These sorts of exercises are much more labor intensive but worth the effort to get an accurate representation of how the emergency plan works.

The “Hot Wash”

Exercise activities come in a variety of sizes, but all have the goal of practicing plans and finding potential gaps in performance.  It is important that all participants come to the exercise ready to learn and possibly adapt better procedures for future use.  The end of an exercise, typically called a “hot wash”, gives all participants the time to reflect on what was learned through the activity.  Findings during this discussion can be used to create new plans and procedures, ones you might want to bring to the next exercise.  There is no “failing” an exercise, just opportunities to grow and improve for next time.

Resources for Planning Your Exercise

By |May 27th, 2021|

Small Business Association Assistance

The recently passed American Rescue Plan is a new COVID disaster relief plan that will provide emergency grants, lending, and investment to hard-hit small businesses so they can rehire and retain workers and purchase the health and sanitation equipment they need to keep workers safe. If you are a small business owner,  you may be eligible for one or more of these relief options.

  • Paycheck Protection Program:The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on payroll. Borrowers may be eligible for PPP loan forgiveness.

    SBA is currently offering PPP loans originated only by participating community financial institutions including Certified Development Companies (CDCs), SBA Microlenders, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) until May 31, 2021 or until remaining funds are exhausted. Please note that not all community financial institutions are participating in PPP.

  • COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster LoanSmall business owners and qualified agricultural businesses in all U.S. states and territories are currently eligible to apply for a low-interest loan due to COVID-19.  Agricultural businesses with 500 or fewer employees are now eligible as a result of new authority granted by Congress in response to the pandemic.  More details about qualification can be found here.
  • Restaurant Revitalization Fund 

The American Rescue Plan Act established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) to provide funding to help restaurants and other eligible businesses keep their doors open. This program will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023.

  • Shuttered Venue Operations Grant The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, and amended by the American Rescue Plan Act. The program includes over $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues, to be administered by SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance.

    Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million. $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees.

These are just some of the options available to small business owners who have been financially hit by COVID-19.  Please reach out to us at with any more questions on eligibility and we will be more than happy to help find solutions that fit your needs.

By |May 24th, 2021|
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