Emergency preparedness campaign vehicle visits Mundelein, Waukegan festivals this weekend

Lake County will be the last stop on an emergency preparedness campaign’s six-county tour of Illinois and Indiana that ends this weekend.

The campaign, called “Gear Up. Get Ready! It can happen!,” is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Program for Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. The initiative started in May and combines the help of emergency management officials at the local, state and federal levels along with community groups.

“It’s an effort to encourage preparedness for all sorts of emergencies and specifically to get people to think about their personal preparedness rather than relying on others in the event of an emergency,” said Kent McKenzie, emergency management coordinator in Lake County. “In a widespread disaster, resources will be very limited and responses will be delayed.”

The campaign and its 16-foot vehicle will complete the tour after visiting the Mundelein and Waukegan community festivals this weekend. Visitors to the exhibit can take a readiness assessment to gauge their preparedness level, create a family disaster plan, receive information, participate in emergency demonstrations and bring photos home from a safety-themed photo booth.

This visit to Lake County was preceded by visits to Will, Cook and DuPage counties and Porter and Lake counties in Indiana.

McKenzie said even though the program technically is ending, the regional catastrophic planning group is still looking to do other events in Gurnee and at the Lake County Fair.

While he admitted the Midwest faces different dangers than other catastrophy-prone areas, there are still pressing concerns.

“While I would agree that we’re not facing an imminent threat like Hurricane Katrina or a major earthquake like California faces, there are a lot of other significant disasters that we do have realistic risk of, (such as) widespread tornado outbreaks or ice storms,” McKenzie said. “That sort of thing could be incredibly disruptive to our communities. ... This is an opportunity to get information and materials that can potentially save lives during a disaster.”

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