Get Ready, Take Action & Recover
Emergency events in our county can range from natural events (e.g., wildfires, tornadoes, flooding, severe weather, windstorms, disease outbreaks, etc.) to man-made events (e.g., terrorism, cyber-attacks, active shooter, etc.) to facility/technology failure (e.g., power outage, structure damage, water/sewage failures, communication outage, etc.). Now is a good time to get ready for whatever might happen.
Get Ready: What to Do Before an Emergency
- Make a family Plan
- Have an evacuation plan
- Sign up for emergency notifications
- Know your neighbors
- Make a Shelter in place kit
- Pack a go bag
- Know how to get in contact with loved ones
Talk to all family members, including the little ones. You and your family might not be together during a disaster. Confirm all family members agree on an emergency plan. Give emergency information to babysitters or other caregivers that may come into your home. Verify family members know all the possible ways to get out of your home and keep all exits clear, just in case a night time evacuation is needed. Conduct your family plan drill every six months.
- Visit the Ready.gov pages to learn how to make a plan.
- Learn first aid and CPR. Have a first aid kit, first aid manual and extra medicine for family members.
- Identify an Out-of-Area Contact: Choose a person outside the immediate area for family members to contact in case you get separated. This person should live far enough away so he or she won't be involved in the same emergency. Collect contact information of everyone in the family and make sure everyone knows where and how to reconnect during a disaster. Prepare wallet cards with the contact’s information.
- Decide on a Family Meeting Place: Choose a place for your family to meet after a disaster. Make sure this is a place your children can get to if they aren’t with you.
- Family Communication: Know how to contact your children at their school or daycare, and how to pick them up after a disaster. Let the school know if someone else is authorized to pick them up. Keep your child's emergency release card up to date.
- Public Information and Warning: Learn your community's warning signals, what they sound like and what you should do when you hear them. Teach your children about these warning signals and quiz them regularly.
- Financial Preparedness: Disasters of any kind can cause devastating financial losses. Consider the cost of an unplanned evacuation, or rebuilding a home after a flood or fire. If your home is an income property, you could lose an entire stream of income within hours.
- Examine your insurance policies as your homeowner’s insurance may not cover disaster damage, such as hail damage, tornado, flood or snow damage. Depending on where you live you may need to get additional coverage.
- Boost your emergency savings because when a disaster hits you could be out of work and your home for a long period of time. That's why financial advisors recommend maintaining an emergency fund of at least three to six months' worth of living expenses.
- Compile valuable documents that you may need to access if your home in destroyed. This includes insurance policies, passports, credit card numbers and bank account numbers.
- Know your home. Knowing how to turn off the utilities before evacuating can help minimize damage.
If you need to evacuate your house, determine a process for evacuating quickly. Practice the plan at least two times each year. Here are some things to consider when developing your evacuation plan:
- What are the items from your house you would need to collect during an emergency pre-evacuation or evacuation?
- Store copies of your vital records and lists, photos or videos of valuable items in a safety deposit box. Include updated insurance policies.
- What is your emergency plan for your pets and livestock?
- Designate a “safety zone.” What are the different routes out of the neighborhood to get to the “safety zone?” What if the planned evacuation routes are blocked by the emergency?
- Know where the nearest fire and police stations are located.
- Learn how to shut off your water, gas and electricity. Know where to find shut-off valves and switches.
- Keep a small amount of cash available. If the power is out, ATM machines won't work.
- Make copies of your vital records and store them in a safe deposit box in another city or state. Store the originals safely. Keep photos and videotapes of your home and valuables in your safe deposit box.
- Make sure everyone knows where everything is located and who would be responsible for getting what. Then — practice!
- In Jefferson County, CodeRED emergency notifications allows the Sheriff's Office to warn citizens of danger. With CodeRED, the Sheriff's Office can call, text or email multiple individuals and businesses to warn of dangerous suspects, flood, fire or chemical spills. Sign up for CodeRED.
- Smart911 is a free service with which users create a safety profile by entering vital data they want made available about themselves, their family, their residence and even their pets. Data given can include photos, and information regarding medical conditions, allergies, disabilities and/or special needs, home addresses of cell phone callers and floor plans to name a few. Smart911 delivers this information automatically to dispatchers, who then enable responders to be more successful with access to critical health and logistical information before arriving at the scene of an emergency.
Your neighbors can be your best support system. In an emergency, first-responder agencies may be overwhelmed and may need help from trained volunteers. There are many ways you can get involved and support your community. Talk to your neighbors about planning for emergencies and how you can help neighbors who may need assistance, such as the elderly, people with infants or those with special health care needs. Talk with them about how you can work together — who might need help evacuating? Does anyone have health issues to consider?
Government agencies will respond to community disasters, but citizens may be on their own for hours, even days, after disaster strikes. You should be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least three days. In some emergencies, such as an influenza pandemic, you may need to prepare for a week or months.
Some examples of emergency kit supplies include:
- Dry or canned food and drinking water for each person
- Can opener
- First aid supplies and first aid book
- Copies of important documents such as birth certificates, licenses and insurance policies
- "Special needs" items for family members such as infant formula, eyeglasses and medications
- A change of clothing
- Sleeping bag or blanket
- Battery powered radio or television
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Waterproof matches
- Toys, books, puzzles, games
- Extra house keys and car keys
- List of contact names and phone numbers
- Food, water and supplies for pets
Additional items you can store at home for use during an emergency:
- Barbecue, camp stove
- Fuel for cooking, such as charcoal or camp stove fuel
- Plastic knives, forks, spoons
- Paper plates and cups
- Paper towels
- Heavy-duty aluminum foil
- Large plastic trash bags for trash, water protection
- Large trash cans
- Bar soap and liquid detergent
- Toothpaste and toothbrushes
- Feminine and infant supplies
- Toilet paper
- Household bleach with no additives, and eyedropper (for purifying drinking water)
- Newspaper — to wrap garbage and waste
- Sturdy shoes
- Gloves for clearing debris
- Ax, shovel, broom
- Crescent wrench for turning off gas
- Screwdriver, pliers, hammer
- Coil of one-half inch rope
- Plastic tape and sheeting
- Knife or razor blades
- Garden hose for siphoning and fire fighting
Put together a 72-hour emergency “go-bag” supply kit. Include water, food, protective clothing, including sturdy shoes, cotton or wool clothing, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, gloves, a handkerchief, medications, phone charger and travel toiletries. Store in easy-to-carry packs. Have children help put together go-bags (they may include some toys or a stuffed animal). Other suggestions on what to include in your kit can be found at https://www.ready.gov/colorado. Be sure to include copies of personal documents and contact lists, necessary medications and extra cash. We know it can get expensive, so focus on the necessities first.
If you have special physical or medical needs, be sure to have an extra supply of medication and supplies to take with you. People with heart and lung diseases must be especially careful around wood smoke. Discuss your emergency plans with your medical provider.
If you are separated from your loved ones when disaster strikes, you will need a way to find out where they are. The stress of the event may make it difficult to remember even routine information, like phone numbers. Every household member should have an out-of-area contact card in a wallet, purse or backpack at all times.
- Ask an out-of-area family member or friend to be your contact person. This person should live at least 100 miles away from you, so they aren’t involved in the same emergency. It may be difficult to make local calls because large numbers of people may be using the phone lines at the same time. However, you should be able to make long distance calls.
- Make small cards with the contact person’s name and phone number for all family members to carry in their wallets, purses or backpacks.
- Keep a phone that does not require electricity. Cordless phones use electricity—if the power is out, they will not work!
- All household members should call the out-of-area contact. The contact person will collect information about each family member, where they are and how to contact them.
- You may be able to send text messages to your loved ones on your cell phone. Keep messages short.
- Make sure the handsets to your phones are hung up — during emergency events handsets can get knocked off their bases. When large numbers of phones are off-the-hook, local phone service may stop working correctly.
- You should be able to use a pay phone if your home phone does not work. Pay phones are part of the emergency services network, and are a priority to be restored to service. Find out where pay phones are in your area and teach your kids how to use one. Tape the coins needed to use a pay phone to your out-of-area contact card.
Take Action: When an Emergency Occurs
- Keep calm and take time to think. Give assistance where needed.
- Monitor Twitter, local news broadcasts, and listen to your radio for official information and instructions.
- Use the telephone for emergency calls only.
- If you are ordered to evacuate, take your emergency kit and follow official directions to a safe place or temporary shelter.
Recovery: After an Emergency
- Use caution in entering damaged buildings and homes.
- Stay away from damaged electrical wires and wet appliances.
- Check food and water supplies for contamination.
- Notify your relatives that you are safe. But don't tie up phone lines, they may be needed for emergency calls.