IEMA highlights outdoor event safety in June
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[June 14, 2012]
SPRINGFIELD -- Fairs, concerts, street
festivals and sporting events are just some of the hundreds of
outdoor events that will take place this summer throughout Illinois.
While event organizers and participants hope good weather will
prevail during the event, planning for the possibility of severe
weather is important for ensuring everyone's safety.
Throughout June, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is
encouraging outdoor event organizers and people attending those
events to be prepared for the unexpected.
"Outdoor events can
range from a few hundred participants to more than 100,000," said
IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. "But every event, large or small,
should have a plan for monitoring changing weather conditions,
alerting participants to approaching hazardous weather and moving
people to a shelter if conditions warrant."
Monken added that people attending outdoor events should also be
aware of weather conditions and follow instructions by event
organizers if severe weather threatens.
One of the largest events in Illinois each year is the Illinois
State Fair, which often draws more than 100,000 people a day to the
fairgrounds in Springfield. State fair officials have long
maintained a plan for ensuring the safety of people on the
fairgrounds. That plan was recently updated following meetings with
representatives from the National Weather Service's Lincoln office.
"Safety for fairgoers is of the utmost importance," said Amy
Bliefnick, state fair manager. "Although the fair always has had an
excellent safety record, this was an opportune time to improve our
communication with the National Weather Service and the Illinois
The state fair's plan details coordination between the weather
service, state police and fair officials. For the 2012 Illinois
State Fair, the NWS will provide daily weather briefings to state
police and state fair officials; be available 24/7 for questions
about current weather conditions upon request; and provide telephone
notifications of imminent hazardous weather threats and high-impact
weather events. The plan also addresses how information about
approaching hazardous weather will be disseminated throughout the
fairgrounds and what facilities will serve as shelters.
The state fairgrounds emergency plan has been activated on
several occasions, including during the 2011 Illinois State Fair
when a severe thunderstorm packing high winds approached the area.
Fair attendees were notified through the public address system and
advised to seek shelter inside one of the more than 170 substantial
buildings on the fairgrounds.
IEMA and the NWS recommend that managers of large outdoor events
develop emergency plans that include:
A way to receive
information about storms in the area, such as monitoring TV or
radio coverage, the Internet, NOAA Weather Radio, commercial
services, and NWS forecasts.
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A plan to follow
when bad weather threatens the venue, including written
instructions on how to contact local emergency management and
for notifying attendees of the approaching danger, such as a
public address system, internal TV or radio broadcast, text and
email message alerts, and staff announcements. In addition,
severe weather safety guidelines and evacuation procedures
should be printed in event programs.
A place to shelter
attendees during severe weather and signs to inform attendees
where the shelters are located.
Educational materials to ensure
attendees are made aware of precautions the venue has taken and
the actions people should take when notified of a severe weather
"Summer in Illinois means there will be numerous outdoor
activities. Summer is also when thunderstorms can cause problems
during outdoor events. The main thing people can do is check the
forecast and plan accordingly. When thunderstorms are in the
forecast, the first step is to make sure you or someone at your
gathering has a way to monitor weather conditions by using a mobile
device or a weather-alert radio. The second step is to have a secure
shelter you can quickly get to if a thunderstorm is approaching,"
said Chris Miller, warning coordination meteorologist for the NWS
office in Lincoln.
Information for outdoor event organizers and participants is
available on the Ready Illinois website at
Emergency Management Agency file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]