Welcome to the Emergencies and Disasters Section
of the Winnebago County Health Department Website

The Winnebago County Health Department is the lead agency in Winnebago County for public health related emergencies and supports all other agencies when an emergency is not related to strictly public health responses. Examples of public health emergencies include pandemics, epidemics, bioterrorism and any unusual event that affects the health of a large segment of the population of Winnebago County.

Within the Winnebago County Health Department is the Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response. The Office is charged with updating and evaluating the Health Department Emergency Operations Plan and providing liaison between the Health Department and government agencies at the local, state and federal level, as well as between the Health Department and the residents of Winnebago County. 

In June, 2009 the Winnebago County Health Department All Hazards Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) was officially recognized by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) as meeting the requirements for recertification as 'Project Public Health Ready' (one of only 4 Counties in the nation to receive this recoginition during the first round). The EOP submitted was a culmination of efforts begining in 2001 with the creation of the Bioterrorism Response Plan and expanded to include a Pandemic Flu Response Plan in 2006. The EOP is constantly updated through the efforts of many County agencies, social service organizations and non-profit groups and through the Rockford Health Council Infectious Diseases Comittee


The Illinois Department of Transportation has instituted the YELLOW DOT PROGRAM. Participants would put medical information on a yellow card they keep in their glove compartment. The program aims to improve roadway safety by providing first responders with crucial information for treating injuries or health emergencies following a road incident. 

For more information on the program, please view the Yellow Dot of Illinois informational video through this link:

The Yellow Dot Planning Committee of Winnebago County will be requesting supplies and providing information to first responder agencies in Winnebago County and will announce the beginning of the public awareness campaign in January 2013. 

With Smartphones becoming commonplace, apps specializing in disaster preparedness and response are useful tools to have. A list of 5 apps that can be helpful (please note, not all are free) include: 

American Red Cross
The Red Cross hurricane app provides help at your fingertips: It includes one-touch, “I’m safe” messaging to reassure friends and family, NOAA weather alerts and shelter locations, and checklists to help you and your family prepare.

Download the app from, or call "**REDCROSS" (**73327677) from your smartphone to have a download link sent directly to your phone.

Disaster Readiness
An affordable app that could make a difference, Disaster Readiness is an emergency prep guide with more than 175,000 reference guides on how to respond to any disaster situation. Should the power go out, you won’t be able to rely upon the Internet for information. This handy app should have all the info you need, with sections on floods, fires, evacuation, and how to find or create shelter in an emergency.

Available for Google Android-based phones and Apple iPhones, Disater Readiness is a great way to make your smartphone even smarter.

iMapWeather Radio
NOAA radio alerts are a crucial source of information in a disaster. This $10 app can wake your phone up in case of an emergency, and provides local weather forecasts while you travel. And using the GPS in your phone, it can track you and monitor your safety.

Download it from Apple’s iTunes store.

Disaster Alert
Available for iPhones or Android phones Disaster Alert provides a list of all active natural hazards around the world. If knowledge is half the battle, this free app could make a real difference.

Red Panic Button
If you're caught in a dangerous situation, getting the word out might be a lifesaver. The Red Panic Button is essentially a one-touch beacon to do just that, broadcasting your GPS location and a Google Maps link out via e-mail, text message and Twitter to your emergency contact. Download it for Android or iPhone.

PLEASE NOTE: The WCHD does not make any endoresments one way or another as to which app to utilize and when.

For information on food safety following a storm, please visit:


Winnebago County Warming Centers

Temperatures are falling as a result of the normal seasonal downturn, but are merging with the highj winds from the remanants of Hurricane Sandy to produce cold wind chills, especially at night. Winnebago County has opened WARMING CENTERS:

  • Carpenter's Place
    1149 Railroad Ave. Rockford
    Mon–Fri 8:15am – 3:00pm
  • Salvation Army
    1706 – 18th Ave. Rockford
    Mon–Fri 8:00am – 5:00pm
    If family with minors, signed release needed
  • Winnebago County Justice Center
    650 W. State St. Rockford
    Lobby open 24 hrs/7 days a week
  • Women's Crisis Center
    809 Cedar St. Rockford
    Women and Children Only
    8:00am – 5:00pm/7days a week
  • Public Safety Building
    420 W. State St. Rockford
    Lobby open if 32 degrees or below
    Mon-Fri 7:00am – 5:00pm
  • Rockford Rescue Mission
    715 W. State St.
    24 hrs/7 days a week
    Meals served 3 times per day at
    7:00am - Noon - 5:30pm
  • Pecatonica Village Hall
    405 Main St. Pecatonica
    Mon-Fri 8:00am – 4:00pm
  • Village of Machesney Park
    300 Roosevelt Rd. Machesney Park
    Mon-Fri 8:00am – 4:30pm
  • Harlem Community Center
    900 Roosevelt Rd., Machesney Park
    Mon-Fri 8:30am – 4:30pm
  • Bay View Community Room
    238 Northway Park Rd. Machesney Park
    Mon - Fri 9:00am – 5:00pm

Persons with functional needs often require extra assistance in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Part of this is being personally prepared and gathering as much information as possible about being prepared for a disaster.

For more information on how to be personally prepared for person with functional needs, please follow the link below:




For information on public health situations in Winnebago County, please click on the link below for the latest monthly update from the WCHD Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response:

 February 2012


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