Harwood Heights reviews emergency procedures
Harwood Heights Mayor Arlene Jezierny said the village's review of emergency procedures will cover many different areas. | Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 24, 2013 8:46PM
HARWOOD HEIGHTS — Be prepared. Be very prepared.
That’s the approach Harwood Heights is taking as it reviews its emergency plans.
Planning for an emergency that affects the village is one thing, explained Village President Arlene Jezierny, and the village is in the process of taking a look at those procedures.
But there are also emergency situations involving individual residents.
At the Feb. 6 Committee of the Whole meeting, trustees reviewed a home-based emergency response guide put together by students from Northeastern Illinois University.
The 53-page preliminary guide addresses what to do in case of extreme heat or cold, snowstorms and floods, among other situations. It also addresses power outages and gas leaks.
And it delves into seemingly minor - but still hazardous areas, such as the proper way to clean up a broken compact fluorescent light bulb, which by federal mandate is replacing incandescent bulbs.
Since CFL bulbs contain trace amounts of mercury, one should open windows and evacuate the room for at least 10 minutes, according to the guide. Only then should one enter the room to clean it up. Use sticky tape to make sure you have all the broken glass, and wipe surfaces clean with damp paper towels.
Clean quickly, the guide recommends, then leave the room and keep the windows open for at least two more hours before reentering.
The draft guide is the result of a project created by students of Trustee Therese Schuepfer, a professor of developmental psychology at Northeastern Illinois University at Chicago.
“It’s a training class where students use the skills they learn and apply them to real life situations,” she explained. “It’s a way to show how a college degree translates into skills you can use in the real world.”
Schuepfer said students find an issue or a problem; collect data; and then analyze and interpret that information.
For this project, students surveyed residents to find out what kinds of emergency information would be useful, she said.
Since village officials have so many issues to address, the draft emergency plan gives them a starting point, she added.
“Now it’s up to the trustees to roll up their sleeves and work on it,” Schuepfer said.
The village’s review of emergency responses covers myriad situations, Jezierny noted.
“We continue to try to educate residents about such issues as identification theft and neighborhood watch,” she said. “We have available to residents new Neighborhood Watch signs that also include home security and safety, vacation safety and vehicle security tips.”
The village, in conjunction with Union Ridge School, is developing a crime prevention seminar that will address the Neighborhood Watch program and deceptive practices.
“We are focusing on safety in general,” Jezierny said, including alerting residents that they should call 911 to verify the identity of anyone claiming to be from the village or from a utility.
“We want to make residents alert,” she said. “We want them to make sure the person at the door is who he says he is.”
On the horizon is a project with Ridgewood High School authorities to provide staff with the tools needed in case of a school shooting, something Gov. Patrick Quinn suggested Illinois schools do at least once a year in his Feb. 6 State of the State address in response to the Newtown, Conn., school shooting in December, Jezierny said.
The proposed school-shooting simulation would train teachers how to respond in such a situation, and would be held when students would not be present, she added.
“The more information you have, the better prepared you are to stay safe,” Jezierny said.