HOA Insights: Common Sense for Common Areas

024 | HOA Emergency Planning For Your Community!

October 09, 2023 Hosts: Robert Nordlund, Kevin Davis, Julie Adamen Season 1 Episode 24
HOA Insights: Common Sense for Common Areas
024 | HOA Emergency Planning For Your Community!
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Make sure you’re prepared with today’s episode all about HOA emergency planning!
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Join us as we prepare our listeners for of HOA emergency planning tailored for community associations. In this episode, we navigate the challenges of emergency preparedness, from understanding the nuances of wildfire prevention to establishing robust emergency response systems. Learn the importance of tailoring evacuation plans and setting up rallying points for various association types. Gain insights from high-rise building emergency protocols, and understand the vital role of on-site management. Hear from seasoned experts, including Arielle Hansford, Vice President of First Service Residential, and Robert Nordlund, as they shed light on fostering community involvement and the significance of regular drills and communication plans. Equip yourself with the knowledge to ensure the safety and resilience of your community association.

Chapters from today's episode: HOA Emergency Planning For Your Community! 

00:00 You always need to be prepared for any HOA emergency
02:38 HOA Emergency planning and disaster preparedness for wildfires
04:45 The difference between natural and man-made disasters 
08:38 The importance of having good relationships with neighboring communities for disaster preparedness
11:19 Creating Assembly/Rally Points for your HOA 
15:33 Having the right preparedness resources for your HOA community 
17:43 Community Financials Ad Break 
18:43 Who sets up emergency procedures in your HOA community? 
23:43 Look to your community for potential emergency preparedness skills
29:07 Do communities do fire drills? 

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Kevin Davis, CIRMS
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Robert Nordlund, PE
https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-nordlund-pe-rs-5119636/

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Airielle Hansford:

training volunteers as well on what to do and we have certain scenarios we could have imagine a major medical situation I could be one of the members of the staff you know during the during the overnight shift and you know, someone being able to grab that manual and and look to see what how do we respond? Um, it could be it could be a third party security officer.

Announcer: HOA Insights:

Common Sense for Common Areas exists to help all 2 million volunteer board members nationwide have the right information at the right time to make the right decisions for their future. This podcast is sponsored by four companies that care about Board Members Association insights & Marketplace, Association Reserves, Community Financials, and Kevin Davis Insurance Services. You'll find links to their websites and social media in the show notes.

Robert Nordlund:

Welcome back to HOAs insights common sense for common areas. I'm Robert North London. I'm here today with a special guest to discuss strategies for keeping your homeowners safe in emergencies. This is episode 24. And before I make the introduction to our guest expert, I want to encourage everyone to check out episode number 23, which was a great discussion with regular co host and insurance expert Kevin Davis, on ideas how to pay for the high cost of insurance. Now if you missed any other prior episodes, take a moment after this episode to subscribe to this podcast on any of the most popular podcast platforms. You can also listen from our podcast website, which is www Hoainsights.org Or watch on our YouTube channel. And if you have a hot topic, a crazy story or a question you'd like to have us address, please leave us a voicemail message at 805-203-3130 or send us an email at podcast@reservestudy.com Well today it's my pleasure to welcome Airielle Hansford to the program. Airielle is Vice President high rise with first service residential in the Washington DC metropolitan area. She has 20 years of community management experience and has managed a wide variety of associations and I was enjoying those stories just before we started the recording. Airielle has been an active volunteer with the Washington Metropolitan chapter of the community Associations Institute since 2007, and is a past president of that large chapter. She is currently chair of their strategic business partner Task Force, and a co chair of CA nationals high rise managers workshop, which is where I met her Airielle. So welcome to the program.

Airielle Hansford:

Thank you so much. I'm so happy to be here, Robert.

Robert Nordlund:

Well, I thought we could start today's program by taking a moment to address the question of wildfires. Boards are busy running the affairs of the association but with memories of the wildfires that pretty much destroyed the Maui town of Linus still fresh in our minds. This is a good time to talk about emergency planning. Okay, we'll start out with types of emergencies or want to jump right into wildfires.

Airielle Hansford:

Totally up to you. Absolutely up to you.

Robert Nordlund:

Let's do wildfires. Let's do wildfires. Great,

Airielle Hansford:

wonderful. Well, you know, I'm I'm here in the DC metro area. So I don't have a ton of experience with wildfires we do in the Shenandoah mountains, we do get some wildfires. You know, I think it's important that that a community, either they're they're investing, both in prevention and in auto management systems that or are going to help them with you to preventing destruction, preventing injury and hopefully death as well. Of course, having a well thought out robust emergency response system is crucial and being able to test that. I think that's vital to the process.

Robert Nordlund:

Let me take it down a couple of paths here. I've been speaking about insurance, also the last few episodes. And I'm thinking that this is going to be a dual benefit. Because if you're preparing for wildfires, that means you're cutting back the shrubs, the bushes, the vegetation away from the perimeter of the association, and that probably as an insurance benefit to the Association also in addition to a life safety benefit, would you feel that's fair? I agree. Okay. And then there are some areas that are more prone to this type of emergency or another but before we were speaking today, or before we started recording, we were talking about two different types of emergencies. And I liked the way you categorize them. manmade and natural. Can you take us down that path?

Airielle Hansford:

Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, often we talk about natural disasters. But but but really there are many types of disasters and emergency situations. And so we have natural disasters and when There are events, right? So natural disaster could be an earthquake, a volcano, weather events, hurricanes, hurricanes in Florida, now absolutely hurricanes in Florida, of course, the dry spells. And that, of course being the catalyst for so many wildfires, we have also technological and manmade disasters, these could be industrial accidents, it could be explosion nearby, a fire, chemical spills, structural failure and collapse. In that could be that could be nearby. We also have social and civil emergencies. So that could be active shooter, or a mass shooting. And then cybersecurity incidents, civil unrest, we see that in, especially in the last several years, it could be a city wide or you even a statewide power outage and blackout. Think about New York, what they went through several summers ago. And then of course, the water supply disruptions. That's a huge one. So environmental and health emergencies. Right. So hazardous material incidents are a health emergency that could be pandemic or biological. And then, of course, we have those specific to the community. Whether it's asbestos, you know, for a high rise building, it could be mechanical failures, or elevator entrapments, and then it could be structural issues, as well that are happening. So that's really how I like to break it down. When I think of it, let's not just think about whether, you know, let's let's, let's try to think about what happens in the areas that we're in. Yeah.

Robert Nordlund:

When I'm thinking about the news we had, was it a year or two, we have active shooter in a high rise in Atlanta. And then we had a big train derailment in looking at my map on the side of my office here in Ohio, just I think, a few months back. So again, not just the things at your association, but when any of those things happen, it's going to disrupt the fire department's gonna disrupt law enforcement. And when there's an active shooter, with a police collapse on that area of town, if that's where you live, even within a block or two, you're gonna have a hard time getting home. So all these related issues, it doesn't have to be your particular association.

Airielle Hansford:

Yeah, that's absolutely I mean, so then that's where, you know, disaster and emergency preparation come in, it's thinking about the things that can happen, it's making sure that we're identifying those issues that are that are more likely to happen in the area. So that we are in where I do do your homework, when it comes to this. We talked about several, you know, when we were chatting ahead of, of coming on, but I think talk to others and find out what they're preparing for in the in the area, too. You know, I think sometimes just picking up the phone or sending an email to your neighboring community, or those in the area to find out how they plan for all of these things. All of these different scenarios can really help it can, it can make it a lot less work. And again, I like the idea of planning for the unexpected, not the unknown.

Robert Nordlund:

You got my brain spinning here. And I'm like usual for writing a lot of notes. When our when our office power goes down, when my office internet goes down, I know where my plan B is I can pop across for me a pop across the freeway, get to a Starbucks, I can get their internet there, I can go to an alternate office of mine, I can hopefully within just a few miles get power. But if you have a particular incident at let's say a high rise, you're familiar with high rises. Maybe you have your neighbor property that you just have a welcome agreement with so that your owners can go across the street and plug in and charge their phones or get some Wi Fi or take advantage of their community room to work on their laptop. Do you see that happening much?

Airielle Hansford:

Absolutely. I think having good relations with neighboring communities, as well as municipalities. Sometimes there is there's a facility right down the street. For larger emergencies. I think that it really is beneficial having places for people to go. So whether these are assembly points, or are they really are a location for people to to get their work done and to shelter for a while. I'm gonna we did have a potential active shooter situation in one of our communities last year, and the community next door, they allowed any residents that were coming home, you know, as well as some of those that evacuated when they heard it was happening. They let them stay there in their clubhouse in common area. And it was it really was so beneficial for us knowing where folks were for the emergency personnel that were trying to make sure that they had the best control of the situation as possible. And of course, it it. You know, in the end, it made them much it made them much closer neighbors, I would say that they have such a, you know, that experience is like no other situation.

Robert Nordlund:

Yeah, well, when you have a crisis, it can be an incredibly bonding event. And I love the idea of us describing our industry as community associations, hopefully there is that community. And if I have electricity in my home, and the building across the street doesn't, I am wide open saying come on over, charge your stuff, go grab some internet, it's a natural when you have something of abundance is for someone else. So scarce. Let's talk about that idea of assembly points. My son is in the military. He calls it a rally point, though, where where you would go. So how do you communicate this to the homeowners? Is this something that you have as part of ongoing normal board meetings or an annual meeting, you talk about the library down the street, the police station, the building a quarter mile down the road? These are our primary points, where you can have a list of I'm here on safe. How do you develop that

Airielle Hansford:

to it's a great point because it depends on the type of Association as well. So whether you're an HOA or condominium or a high rise building, evacuating a high rises is generally quite different than evacuating an HOA, I think for for various situations are having meetup points, that knowing exactly where they're going to be getting those out to residents. I think it's something that one, you as soon as you're rolling these things out, you start talking with the residents about it have the normal cadence, just like you train your staff where you're bringing folks together to talk about these plans. And where these meeting points are, show them give them maps, you can do that. You have just like we would have a large binder prepared for our desk, you know, we'd have copies of that as a management team. The board should have that and there should be there should be something that we're going to give to residents, it can be part of Welcome back it. It can be right there. On the association's website really easy to get to that I think talking about those, right, we want to we want to make it as easy as possible for them to, as you say, find their Rally Point. And also find emergency shelter if this that's necessary to you know, if we're having a major weather event, you know, it's it's raining, and we need to make sure that they're getting somewhere that's high off the ground, right? We're not we're not meeting in the park down the street. Right, we should know what that looks like.

Robert Nordlund:

Yeah. So maybe you have a short list of meet up points. Are these assembly points?

Airielle Hansford:

Absolutely.

Robert Nordlund:

for different purposes.

Airielle Hansford:

Yeah. And in addition to that, too, as you look at as you look at these disaster plans, and in general with emergency preparation, we talk a lot about evacuation, but there's also shelter in place, there's a right time to shelter in place. And I think you talking to the authorities talking to you know, talking to our emergency personnel, and other subject matter experts, they can help us decide what that looks like, when the best time is to do those things.

Robert Nordlund:

Are we talking about having our guest speaker in for a board meeting like a local policeman, sheriff or something like that?

Airielle Hansford:

Absolutely. You know, when when we start the beginning of it, I've big the beginning of taking a look at disaster planning. We don't want to reinvent the wheel. Right. So I think you're not only are we checking with neighbors and others in the locality, right? We can we can do, we can conduct a risk assessment. Consult local authorities to determine the most likely emergencies in your area. It can include natural disasters and weather related events. So any of this others that we talked about, you want to build based on those the most likely scenarios. Um, if you're in Florida, certainly you are your top of the list is going to be a hurricane emergency preparedness. But depending on what part of Virginia, you're in, we have had an earthquake, but you know, they weren't very large. So that's probably a little further down on our list. Now, for the high rise building, we may make that a higher level priority to look at.

Robert Nordlund:

Yeah, well, I think I liked the way you introduce it the very beginning, manmade, versus the unnatural environmental the weather related, because at high rise, it may be as simple as an elevator stuck, or you're out of power, for some reason, the emergency backup generator didn't kick in. And you're struggling with zero power for X amount of time or hours. And I liked the idea of not trying to worry about everything. You spoke about having the priority ideas. And so for the board members, for our audience here who's thinking about oh, gee, this could be overwhelming. We don't want to be overwhelming. So we're talking about 2345 things. The top 345 start with that. Is that fair?

Airielle Hansford:

Yeah, I think so. As those things come up, right, we watch the news, we hear about these things that are happening, whether it's in another community, or whether it's in another area, and hey, maybe that does pertain to us. You know, what about a train derailed that What about and that goes along with? Okay, so maybe a chemical spill or a pollution disaster, that our community could be affected in that. And I think that there's probably some more national types of help that you can get with that. So there, there are several federal and national and even local groups that that they provide resources on how to prepare for natural disasters and the different types in communities, FEMA, the Red Cross, the US Small Business Association, so you can lean into those as well. Again, whether it's nationally or in your own area?

Robert Nordlund:

Yeah, well, I hope that our audience here is starting to have their brains spin about what they can do for their owners, because I believe the Red Cross is always going to be there. I believe the police department is always going to be there, the fire department, all those other things, they're always going to be there. But I want to start with our communities here. How can we help? Help? We have a list here, our rally points, our meetup points, things like that. Let's follow through on this. And I want to talk next subject about who makes these emergency plans?

Russell Munz:

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Robert Nordlund:

Airielle, let's follow up on that idea about setting up the emergency procedures. Who has that kind of responsibility?

Airielle Hansford:

Well, it depends on your the community that you're in. Certainly, I mean, if hopefully, you have on site management, if you don't, it's okay. You know, the board can take this on. There's also there also are folks out there that can help in this process. But but really, you're going to, you're going to want to gather the relevant information, right? So it takes a little research and that's what I said at the beginning, you got to do your homework. So you want to understand what the detailed information is about each of those identified situations, weather events, what are the warning signs and the typical patterns? And then what really is the potential to do the most impact or have the most impact associated with each scenario whether it's on the residents on the on the buildings or planning for what happens in a large evacuation. So Florida being another example of that with a you know, they may have a mandatory evacuation. And so what do you do that? Really it is it's a it's creating step by step procedure for for each of those identified situations. They should be clear actions that are to be taken before, during and after the emergency. Right. So and I think being clear about those things that they are different. So beyond evacuation rights are big evacuation routes and locations for assembly, communication protocols. That's a huge one. How are we going to communicate this to our our owners and residents, both before in preparation during And afterwards, hey, it's safe to come back to the community now, or here's an issue that we're having think of, you know, on Hilton Head Island after one of their storms, you know, one of the communities or a lot of the communities had a hard time getting all of the debris out. And that caused some some major issues for the owners and residents

Robert Nordlund:

just to be able to get in and out

Airielle Hansford:

of 100%, my mom happened to live in one in the big neighborhood, that sea mindset was part of that. And so I you know, definitely hearing every day of the impact, also the designated roles and responsibilities for staff members and board members. That is, that's huge. And again, you know, this is, it may not be a high rise building, it could be be 100 unit townhouse community that has very, very limited amenities, and maybe a couple of parks and sidewalks and things but that you so want to let folks know what to do, where they where they go. And so I think, maybe delving into some of that, if you have staff, you want that contact information, right? In a call list, both the so the staff knows also which vendors and contractors that they may call, if there's an emergency, again, it may not be weather related, so we may not know what's coming, and they just happen. So who's the best? You know, the generator, the power goes off and the generators down? Who do you call? And I guess making sure you have a backup way to call as well.

Robert Nordlund:

Yeah, that sounds like a wonderful thing to have. In the main office, again, I'm thinking high rise, where you have a section of the operation notebook, you just turn to the the red section, the emergencies, and you see power mergency, generator, fire flood, you have those major things do you just open that up and call anyone can do that. It doesn't need to be the building engineer, it could be a receptionist could be the janitorial staff, just someone who knows that notebook is there and we can call that number. But another idea. It could be the board.

Airielle Hansford:

Yeah, training volunteers as well, on what to do. And we have certain scenarios, we could have a med major medical situation, it could be one of the members of the staff, you know, during the during the overnight shift. And you know, someone being able to grab that manual and and look to see what how do we respond? Um, it could be it could be a third party security officer. And so making sure that people understand where that is, I really think it's important in high rise to have front desk processes, procedures have them documented. And one thing that I know some communities do, and I think it's brilliant is one of the first pages, they actually give a picture of what the front desk looks like and where all these different things are. Right. So that's awesome helpful for any community volunteers that might be jumping in, you know, or any other personnel?

Robert Nordlund:

Yeah, well, I like there's two things I want to remember to talk about. One is the before the during and after. And I'm thinking that they find whether they have the picture, or it's obviously they find the notebook, they open to the emergency procedures. And you've got to have a pen there. Because if the building engineer has said I called the electric company at this time, that means next person opened up book knows it's already been done, that they're they're already in process.

Airielle Hansford:

That's a great point. Yeah, I would say with your emergency preparedness section of any kind of notebook. If it's at the front desk, you can even put it in a digital version have a checklist of those same things. So that right there in the book, they can check it off and see what's coming up next. Yeah, 911

Robert Nordlund:

called, they said they'd be here in one hour

at 1:

15am, whatever the time is. So you have you have a log of what's going on. And then again, to our audience, we talk a lot about board members. But this may be a wonderful time to bring the community in where we're, we have established floor captains or building captains. And if you're a board member, and you're thinking, Oh, gee, this could be overwhelming. Establish a committee to help you work on these what are the primary emergencies that we might face here, manmade or natural weather related? And have them feed information to the board and start to get them involved? Because as you said, some of it is property related, some of his community, the owners related and so we're talking about different elements and to expand the board's power by getting a committee on this. Is that a smart thing to do?

Airielle Hansford:

Absolutely. You know, I definitely think it's important as you're going through this process, talk to the folks of the community you may have, you may have a resident there that part of their job was creating disaster plans where at least you know, they were on a committee maybe at the at their business. See, of course, federal government we have we have government contributions We have all sorts of folks that are helping to create disaster planning for whatever it is. Not every not every area is lucky to have that. Like, there are people that will stand up, they want to help. This is their community. They live here. They want to protect their investments. And they want to make sure that that, of course, that they're their neighbors, their own family, that they're protected as well. So I think most important things are the health and safety of every resident, every staff member, every visitor, and then you know the same thing, the safety of our, you know, of our buildings of our homes.

Robert Nordlund:

Yeah, well, I think, again, it boils down to community, know your neighbors. I remember, again, one of the 1000 times I was doing a reservist a site inspection, walking down the hall and the board member was walking me down the hall said, let me stop here for just a minute. And he picked up a newspaper, and opened up a door and said it inside, he says, This is My Neighbor, Dutta. Tada, she's a flight attendant, and we just look after each other. And I just got the greatest feeling about what a great Association This was. And so if there was a problem with that association, someone would know that the person in unit 317 is out of town, or a good Mrs. Smith, the grandma on the floor, she is visiting her grandchildren in Ohio, she's not here, we don't have to worry about her to all these sent just the boils down to knowing your neighbor and being a community at your association, and listing the board and listing the committee member. So it doesn't have to be perfect. And I want to encourage that to our listeners doesn't have to be perfect. If you get half the people involved, and they know their neighbors. Are we mostly there?

Airielle Hansford:

You're right, it doesn't need to be perfect. It's an ongoing process. And so it's something that it needs disaster plan, it should be it should be reviewed and updated regularly. And certainly after whether you've experienced, you know, in your community, the surrounding areas, one of these emergency situations, or, you know, it comes into the spotlight nationally, regionally, where where we'll start hearing about this as what the best practices where and when he can, we can implement some of those in there. Now, I think that there were some crucial things that we talked about whether you have staff or whether this is, you know, the board and other volunteers are, are are taking care of these efforts and putting them together. So if you have staff, of course, you want to identify the roles. But overall, you want to identify the roles, responsibilities and response expectations, there should be a clear chain of command, and designated liaisons for personal for emergency responders. So if it's the building engineer, it might be one of the board members. But it's well known who does that, I think that's important to make sure that we don't have any conflicts, someone shouldn't be be saying, hey, let's shelter in place. And another one is saying, let's evacuate. So there should be written conditions under which to do both of which to do either of those things. Right. So shelter in place, and into evacuate.

Robert Nordlund:

just reviewing my notes. Here we have some, I think some major things that we've established here, there's natural or manmade, you want to have a plan that is the before the during and after. And so just like you're talking about now, where do we go? What are we going to do? We spoke about who has done what so much, who's going to make the end and the chain of command staff or the directors involved the community? The afterwards what we do review annually, but I like that don't worry about perfect pop, what we're talking about is just getting the ideas going. Airielle, Does anyone do a fire drill?

Airielle Hansford:

Oh, yes, absolutely. There are communities that do it. I think certainly doing it with staff. And when we say fire drills, we should be talking about all sorts of drills, we should be looking at what do we do when there's a fire in the garage, right? That's different than there's one in the unit. And we should be talking about that we should be pulling out lists and going through that process. You know, making sure that we're doing things like taking keys grabbing our book, but then also understanding and maybe, you know, maybe that employee was heating up their food in the break room and a fire breaks out and they don't they can't get to the desk to grab those those things. So being able to make sure that you know, they know exactly who to go to, hey, I can call the manager I can call the board president and they have a digital copy of these materials. So in that knowing knowing who has and making that making these procedures readily available to your residents. It's really important. They work with a management company, they should be reaching out to the management company as well, so that they can get assistance off site and on site.

Robert Nordlund:

Have we skipped the obvious, I just realized those associations website, can we get someone who's responsible to say, this is the number one meetup spot? This is number two meetup spot. This is what's going on at the association is, is that part of it?

Airielle Hansford:

Absolutely. So when I, when I talked about a communication plan, that can be in the moment, in, let's say, in high rise, that could be using the fire anunciado system to to give instruction into advice of what's happening. It could be, you know, could be an SMS or email blast that goes out to the community. Before, during after, yeah, the website, there are so many things that we want to do here. So that communication piece really is important. How do we communicate the plan to residents, you know, as I talked about, being prepared to give them a printed version of it, have it available online for them to get to and you know, as well as the staff, or whomever is there that they they're educated to understand this is, you know, this is what someone's looking for

Robert Nordlund:

printed version, review and reinforce Airielle, this is just a fascinating conversation. And I want to get this right. Yeah. And what we're trying to do here again, is protect buildings and protect people, so just critical type stuff. Well, thank you for joining us today. Airielle, please let our audience know the best way to get in touch with you if they have some follow up questions that they're just begging to ask.

Airielle Hansford:

Absolutely. I can be reached via email. It is Airielle Hansford at first service residential.com. So a i r i e l l e. Dot, Hansford, h a n s. Fo rd at fsresidential.com.

Robert Nordlund:

Yeah, I misspelled your first name the first time I sent you an email also. So a I

Airielle Hansford:

am used to that. Absolutely. That's right.

Robert Nordlund:

Yeah, well, fascinating. Again, we hope you'll learn some HOA insights from our discussion today that helps you bring common sense to your common areas. We look forward to having you join us for another great episode. Next week.

Announcer:

You've been listening to HOA Insights, Common Sense for Common Areas. You can listen to the show on our podcast website, hoainsights.org, or subscribe on any of the most popular podcast platforms. You can also watch the show on our YouTube channel. Check the show notes for helpful links. If you liked the show, and want to support the work we do, you can do so in a number of ways. The most important thing you can do is to engage in the conversation, email your questions or voice memos to podcast@reserve study.com Or leave us a voicemail at 805-203-3130. If you gain any insights from the show, please do us a HUGE favor by sharing the show with other board members you know, you can also support us by supporting the brands that sponsor this program. Please remember that the views and opinions expressed by the podcast do not constitute legal advice. You'll want to consult your own legal counsel before making any important decisions. Finally, this podcast was expertly mixed and mastered by Stoke Light Video and Marketing. With Stoke Light on your team, you'll reach more customers with marketing expertise that inspires action. See the show notes to connect with Stoke Light.

You always need to be prepared for any HOA emergency
HOA Emergency planning and disaster preparedness for wildfires
The difference between natural and man-made disasters
The importance of having good relationships with neighboring communities for disaster preparedness
Creating Assembly/Rally Points for your HOA
Having the right preparedness resources for your HOA community
Community Financials Ad Break
Who sets up emergency procedures in your HOA community?
Look to your community for potential emergency preparedness skills
Do communities do fire drills?