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Embrace emergency preparedness plans

On Nov. 29, your editorial entitled, "Don't trust government? Then be better prepared" encouraged people to take personal responsibility for their safety, including taking steps to be self-sufficient after a disaster. The editorial cited recent surveys showing that since Hurricane Katrina, only a small percentage of individuals surveyed were better prepared for disasters now than they were before Katrina.

The editorial reminded people that while hurricanes pose no threat in Central Illinois, severe winter weather is a very real threat, and it encouraged citizens to, at a minimum, equip their vehicles with a winter emergency kit for travel outside of town.

Your preparedness message is one those of us in emergency management have promoted for many years, and we greatly appreciate your assistance in this public education effort.

However, I was perplexed to read a column in Sunday's (Dec. 18) paper by Kurt Erickson and Matt Adrian in which they poked fun at a recent press release from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). The release they were referring to suggested people buy emergency preparedness items, such as weather radios, disaster kits for home or car and smoke detectors, for holiday gifts.

From your Nov. 29 editorial, I thought preparedness was a concept that The Pantagraph would have embraced rather than belittled. While people are sometimes reluctant to buy such items for themselves, they often are more willing to do so for loved ones. As we saw after Hurricane Katrina, preparedness can make a life or death difference.

I hope many people will consider giving preparedness gifts to friends and family this holiday season. As the New Year approaches, IEMA will continue to spread our preparedness message and hopefully even more Illinois citizens will be prepared for the unexpected in 2006.

William C. Burke

Chicago

The writer is director, Illinois Emergency Management Agency

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