Fremont County Courthouse
450 North 2nd Street
Lander, WY  82520
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FACT SHEET: FLOODS AND FLASH FLOODS

Mitigation pays. It includes any activities that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or lessen the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies. Investing in mitigation steps now such as constructing barriers such as levees and purchasing flood insurance will help reduce the amount of structural damage to your home and financial loss from building and crop damage should a flood or flash flood occur.

BEFORE

Find out if you live in a flood-prone area from your local emergency management office or Red Cross chapter.
Ask whether your property is above or below the flood stage water level andlearn about the history of flooding for your region.

Learn flood warning signs and your community alert signals.

Request information on preparing for floods and flash floods.

If you live in a frequently flooded area, stockpile emergency building materials.
These include plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber nails, hammer and saw, pry bar,shovels, and sandbags.

Have check valves installed in building sewer traps to prevent flood watersfrom backing up in sewer drains.
As a last resort, use large corks or stoppers to plug showers, tubs, or basins.

Plan and practice an evacuation route.
Contact the local emergency management office or local American Red Cross chapter for a copy of the community flood evacuation plan.

This plan should include information on the safest routes to shelters. Individuals living in flash flood areas should have several alternative routes.

Have disaster supplies on hand.

  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Emergency food and water
  • Nonelectric can opener
  • Essential medicines
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Sturdy shoes

Develop an emergency communication plan.
In case family members are separated from one another during floods or flashfloods (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and childrenare at school), have a plan for getting back together.

Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact.” After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.

Make sure that all family members know how to respond after a flood or flash flood.
Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.

Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, fire department, and whichradio station to tune to for emergency information.

Learn about the National Flood Insurance Program.
Ask your insurance agent about flood insurance. Homeowners policies do notcover flood damage.

DURING A FLOOD WATCH

  • Listen to a batter-operated radio for the latest storm information.
  • Fill bathtubs, sinks, and jugs with clean water in case water becomescontaminated.
  • Bring outdoor belongings, such as patio furniture, indoors.
  • Move valuable household possessions to the upper floors or to safe ground iftime permits.
  • If you are instructed to do so by local authorities, turn off all utilities atthe main switch and close the main gas valve.
  • Be prepared to evacuate.

DURING A FLOOD

If Indoors:

  • Turn on battery-operated radio or television to get the latest emergencyinformation.
  • Get your preassembled emergency supplies.
  • If told to leave, do so immediately.

If Outdoors:

  • Climb to high ground and stay there.
  • Avoid walking through any floodwaters. If it is moving swiftly, even water 6inches deep can sweep you off your feet.

If In A Car:

  • If you come to a flooded area, turn around and go another way.
  • If your car stalls, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to move stalled vehicles.

DURING AN EVACUATION

  • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Evacuation is much simpler and safer before flood waters become too deep forordinary vehicles to drive through.
  • Listen to a batter-operated radio for evacuation instructions.
  • Follow recommended evacuation routes–shortcuts may be blocked.
  • Leave early enough to avoid being marooned by flooded roads.

AFTER

Flood dangers do not end when the water begins to recede. Listen to a radio or television and don’t return home until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.

Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance–infants,elderly people, and people with disabilities.

Inspect foundations for cracks or other damage.

Stay out of buildings if flood waters remain around the building.

When entering buildings, use extreme caution.

  • Wear sturdy shoes and use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights whenexamining buildings.
  • Examine walls, floors, doors, and windows to make sure that the building is notin danger of collapsing.
  • Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes, that may have come into your home with the flood waters. Use a stick to poke through debris.
  • Watch for loose plaster and ceilings that could fall.
  • Take pictures of the damage–both to the house and its contents for insuranceclaims.

Look for fire hazards.

  • Broken or leaking gas lines
  • Flooded electrical circuits
  • Submerged furnaces or electrical appliances
  • Flammable or explosive materials coming from upstream

Throw away food–including canned goods–that has come in contact withflood waters.

Pump out flooded basements gradually (about one-third of the water per day) toavoid structural damage.

Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are health hazards.

INSPECTING UTILITIES IN A DAMAGED HOME

Check for gas leaks–If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window andquickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you canand call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you turn off the gas forany reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.

Look for electrical system damage–If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if yousmell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If youhave to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electricianfor advice.

Check for sewage and water lines damage–If you suspect sewage lines are damaged avoidusing the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water companyand avoid the water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.

FACT SHEET: THUNDERSTORMS AND LIGHTNING

Some thunderstorms can be seen approaching, while others hit without warning. It is important to learn and recognize the danger signs and to plan ahead.

BEFORE

Learn the thunderstorm danger signs.

  • Dark, towering, or threatening clouds.
  • Distant lightning and thunder.

Have disaster supplies on hand

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Emergency food and water
  • Nonelectric can opener
  • Essential medicines
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Sturdy shoes

Check for hazards in the yard.
Dead or rotting trees and branches can fall during a severe thunderstorm and cause injury and damage.

Make sure that all family members know how to respond after a thunderstorm.
Teach family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity and water.

Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, fire department, and which radio station to tune for emergency information.

Severe Thunderstorm Watches and Warnings
A severe thunderstorm watch is issued by the National Weather Service when the weather conditions are such that a severe thunderstorm (damaging winds 58 miles per hour or more, or hail three-fourths of an inch in diameter or greater) is likely to develop. This is the time to locate a safe place in the home and tell family members to watch the sky and listen to the radio or television for more information.

A severe thunderstorm warning is issued when a severe thunderstorm has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. At this point, the danger is very serious and everyone should go to a safe place, turn on a battery-operated radio or television, and wait for the “all clear” by the authorities.

Learn how to respond to a tornado and flash flood.
Tornadoes are spawned by thunderstorms and flash flooding can occur with thunderstorms. When a “severe thunderstorm warning” is issued, review what actions to take under a “tornado warning” or a “flash flood warning.”

Develop an emergency communication plan.
In case family members are separated from one another during a thunderstorm (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together.

Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact”. After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.

Contact you local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on thunderstorms and lightning.

DURING

If indoors:

  • Secure outdoor objects such as lawn furniture that could blow away or cause damage or injury. Take light objects inside.
  • Shutter windows securely and brace outside doors.
  • Listen to a battery operated radio or television for the latest storm information.
  • Do not handle any electrical equipment or telephones because lightning could follow the wire. Television sets are particularly dangerous at this time.
  • Avoid bathtubs, water faucets, and sinks because metal pipes can transmit electricity.

If outdoors:

  • Attempt to get into a building or car.
  • If no structure is available, get to an open space an squat low to the ground as quickly as possible. (If in the woods, find an area protected by low clump of trees–never stand underneath a single large tree in the open.) Be aware of the potential for flooding in low-lying areas.
  • crouch with hands on knees.
  • Avoid tall structures such as towers, tall trees, fences, telephone lines, or power lines.
  • Stay away from natural lightning rods such as golf clubs, tractors, fishing rods, bicycles, or camping equipment.
  • Stay from rivers, lakes, or other bodies of water.
  • If you are isolated in a level field or prairie and you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning is about to strike), bend forward, putting your hands on your knees. A position with feet together and crouching while removing all metal objects is recommended. Do not lie flat on the ground.

If in a car:

  • Pull safely onto the shoulder of the road away from any trees that could fall on the vehicle.
  • Stay in the car and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rains subside.
  • Avoid flooded roadways.

Estimating the Distance from a Thunderstorm

Because light travels much faster than sound, lightning flashes can be seen long before the resulting thunder is heard. Estimate the number of miles you are from a thunderstorm by counting the number of seconds between a flash of lightning and the next clap of thunder. Divide this number by five.

Important: You are in danger from lightning if you can hear thunder. Knowing how far away a storm is does not mean that you’re in danger only when the storm is overhead.

Hail

Hail is produced by many strong thunderstorms. Hail can be smaller than a pea or as large as a softball and can be very destructive to plants and crops. In a hailstorm, take cover immediately. Pets and livestock are particularly vulnerable to hail, so bring animals into a shelter.

AFTER

Check for injuries.
A person who has been struck by lightning does not carry an electrical charge that can shock other people. If the victim is burned, provide first aid and call emergency medical assistance immediately. Look for burns where lightning entered and exited the body. If the strike cause the victim’s heart and breathing to stop, give cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until medical professionals arrive and take over.

Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance–infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities.

Report downed utility wires.

Drive only if necessary. Debris and washed-out roads may make driving dangerous.

Mitigation includes any activities that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or lessen the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies. Investing in preventive mitigation steps now, such as installing lightning rods to carry the electrical charge of lightning bolts safely to the ground or purchasing flood insurance, will help reduce the impact of severe thunderstorms in the future. For more information on mitigation, contact your local emergency management office.

FACT SHEET: TORNADOES

When a tornado is coming, you have only a short amount of time to make life-or-death decisions. Advance planning and quick response are the keys to surviving a tornado.

BEFORE

Conduct tornado drills each tornado season.
Designate an area in the home as a shelter, and practice having everyone in the family go there in response to a tornado threat.

Discuss with family members the difference between a “tornado watch” and a “tornado warning.”

Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on tornadoes.

Have disaster supplies on hand.

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Emergency food and water
  • Nonelectric can opener
  • Essential medicines
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Sturdy shoes

Develop an emergency communication plan.

In case family members are separated from one another during a tornado (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together.

Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact.” After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.

Tornado Watches and Warnings

A tornado watch is issued by the National Weather Service when tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms. This is time to remind family members where the safest places within your home are located, and listen to the radio or television for further developments.

A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.

Mobile Homes

Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable. A mobile home can overturn very easily even if precautions have been taken to tie down the unit. When a tornado warning is issued, take shelter in a building with a strong foundation.If shelter is not available, lie in ditch or low-lying area a safe distance away from the unit.

Tornado Danger Signs

Learn these tornado danger signs:

  • An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible.
  • Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still.
  • Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

DURING

If at home:

  • Go at once to the basement, storm cellar, or the lowest level of the building.
  • If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or a smaller inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.
  • Get away from the windows.
  • Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they tend to attract debris.
  • Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it.
  • Use arms to protect head and neck.
  • If in a mobile home, get out and find shelter elsewhere.

If at work or school:

  • Go to the basement or to an inside hallway at the lowest level.
  • Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways, or shopping malls.
  • Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it.
  • Use arms to protect head and neck.

If outdoors:

  • If possible, get inside a building.
  • If shelter is not available or there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch or low-lying area or crouch near a strong building. Be aware of the potential for flooding.
  • Use arms to protect head and neck.

If in a car:

  • Never try to outdrive a tornado in a car or truck. Tornadoes can change direction quickly and can lift up a car or truck and toss it through the air.
  • Get out of the car immediately and take shelter in a nearby building.
  • If there is no time to get indoors, get out of the car and lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle. Be aware of the potential for flooding.

AFTER

HELP INJURED OR TRAPPED PERSONS

  • Give first aid when appropriate. Don’t try to move the seriously injured unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
  • Turn on radio or television to get the latest emergency information.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, or gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the buildings if you smell gas or chemical fumes.
  • Take pictures of the damage–both to the house and its contents–for insurance purposes.

Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance–infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

INSPECTING UTILITIES IN A DAMAGED HOME

Check for gas leaks–If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.

Look for electrical system damage–If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.

Check for sewage and water lines damage–If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.

MITIGATION

Mitigation includes any activities that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or lessen the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies. Investing in preventive mitigation steps now, such as checking local building codes and ordinances about wind-resistant designs and strengthening unreinforced masonry, will help reduce the impact of tornadoes in the future. For more information on mitigation, contact your local emergency management office.

FACT SHEET: WILDLAND FIRES

The threat of wildland fires for people living near wildland areas or using recreational facilities in wilderness areas is real. Advance planning and knowing how to protect buildings in these areas can lessen the devastation of a wildland fire.

BEFORE

Learn and teach safe fire practices.

  • Build fires away from nearby trees or bushes.
  • Always have a way to extinguish the fire quickly and completely.
  • Never leave a fire–even a cigarette–burning unattended.

Obtain local building codes and weed abatement ordinances for structures built near wooded areas.

Use fire-resistant materials when building, renovating, or retrofitting structures.

Create a safety zone to separate the home from combustible plants and vegetation.

  • Stone walls can act as heat shields and deflect flames.
  • Swimming pools and patios can be a safety zone.

Check for fire hazards around home.

  • Install electrical lines underground, if possible. Keep all tree and shrub limbs trimmed so they don’t come in contact with the wires.
  • Prune all branches around the residence to a height of 8 to 10 feet. Keep trees adjacent to buildings free of dead or dying wood and moss.
  • Remove all dead limbs, needles, and debris from rain gutters.
  • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers and keep them away from the house.
  • Keep chimney clean.
  • Avoid open burning completely, and especially during dry season.

Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and near sleeping areas.

Make evacuation plans from home and from neighborhood.
Plan several routes in case the fire blocks escape route.

Have disaster supplies on hand

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Emergency food and water
  • Nonelectric can opener
  • Essential medicines
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Sturdy shoes

Develop an emergency communication plan.
In case family members are separated from one another during a wildland fire (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together.

Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact.” After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.

Fire-Resistant Building Materials

Avoid using wooden shakes and shingles for a roof. Use tile, stucco, metal siding, brick, concrete block, rock, or other fire-resistant materials. Use only thick, tempered safety glass in large windows and sliding glass doors.

Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on wildland fires.

DURING

Turn on a battery-operated radio to get the latest emergency information.

Remove combustible items from around the house.

  • Lawn and patio furniture
  • Umbrellas
  • Tarp coverings
  • Firewood

Take down flammable drapes and curtains and close all venetian blinds or noncombustible window coverings.

Take action to protect your home.

  • Close all doors and windows inside your home to prevent draft.
  • Close gas valves and turn off all pilot lights.
  • Turn on a light in each room for visibility in heavy smoke.
  • Place valuables that will not be damaged by water in a pool or pond.
  • If hoses and adequate water are available, leave sprinklers on roofs and anything that might be damaged by fire.

Be ready to evacuate all family members and pets when fire nears or when instructed to do so by local officials.

AFTER

Take care when re-entering a burned wildland area. Hot spots can flare up without warning. Check the roof immediately and extinguish any sparks or embers. Check the attic for hidden burning sparks. For several hours afterward, re-check for smoke and sparks throughout the home. If trapped in a Wildland Fire
You cannot outrun a fire. Crouch in a pond or river. Cover head and upper body with wet clothing. If water is not around, look for shelter in a cleared area or among a bed of rocks. Lie flat and cover body with wet clothing or soil.

Breathe the air close to the ground through a wet cloth to avoid scorching lungs or inhaling smoke.

MITIGATION

Mitigation includes any activities that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or lessen the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies. Investing in preventive mitigation steps now such as installing a spark arrestor on your chimney, cleaning roof surfaces and gutters regularly, and using only fire resistant materials on the exterior of your home, will help reduce the impact of wildland fires in the future. For more information on mitigation, contact your local emergency management office.

FACT SHEET: WINTER DRIVING

The leading cause of death during winter storms is transportation accidents. Preparing your vehicle for the winter season and knowing how to react if stranded or lost on the road are the keys to safe winter driving.

BEFORE

Have a mechanic check the following items on your car.

  • Battery
  • Antifreeze
  • Wipers and windshield washer fluid
  • Ignition system
  • Thermostat
  • Lights
  • Flashing hazard lights
  • Exhaust system
  • Heater
  • Brakes
  • Defroster
  • Oil level (if necessary, replace existing oil with a winter grade oil or the SAE 10w/30 weight variety)

Install good winter tires.
Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.

Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal.

Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.

Plan long trips carefully.
Listen to the radio or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions. Always travel during daylight and, if possible, take at least one other person.

If you must go out during a winter storm, use public transportation.

Dress warmly.
Wear layers of loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing.

Carry food and water.
Store a supply of high energy “munchies” and several bottles of water.

Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on winter driving.

Winter Car Kit
Keep these items in your car:

  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • First aid kit with pocket knife
  • Necessary medications
  • Several blankets
  • Sleeping bags
  • Extra newspapers for insulation
  • Plastic bags (for sanitation)
  • Matches
  • Extra set of mittens, socks, and a wool cap
  • Rain gear and extra clothes
  • Small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels
  • Small shovel
  • Small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
  • Booster cables
  • Set of tire chains or traction mats
  • Cards, games, and puzzles
  • Brightly colored cloth to use as a flag
  • Canned fruit and nuts
  • Nonelectric can opener
  • Bottled water

DURING

IF TRAPPED IN CAR DURING A BLIZZARD

Stay in the car.
Do not leave the car to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. You may become disoriented and lost is blowing and drifting snow.

Display a trouble sign.
Hang a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna and raise the hood.

Occasionally run engine to keep warm.
Turn on the car’s engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater when the car is running. Also, turn on the car’s dome light when the car is running.

Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.

Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

Do minor exercises to keep up circulation.

Clap hands and move arms and legs occasionally. Try not to stay in one position for too long. If more than one person is in the car, take turns sleeping.

For warmth, huddle together.

Use newspapers, maps, and even the removable car mats for added insulation.

Avoid overexertion.
Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.

Wind Chill
“Wind chill” is a calculation of how cold it feels outside when the effects of temperature and wind speed are combined. A strong wind combined with a temperature of just below freezing can have the same effect as a still air temperature about 35 degrees colder.

Winter Storm Watches and Warnings
A winter storm watch indicates that severe winter weather may affect your area. A winter storm warning indicates that severe winter weather conditions are definitely on the way.

A blizzard warning means that large amounts of falling or blowing snow and sustained winds of at least 35 miles per hour are expected for several hours.

Frostbite and Hypothermia
Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold exposure that can permanently damage its victims. A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, or nose and ear lobes are symptoms of frostbite.

Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness, and exhaustion.

If frostbite or hypothermia is suspected, begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance. Warm the person’s trunk first. Use your own body heat to help. Arms and legs should be warmed last because stimulation of the limbs can drive cold blood toward the heart and lead to heart failure.

Put person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket.

Never give a frostbite or hypothermia victim something with caffeine in it (like coffee or tea) or alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, can cause the heart to beat faster and hasten the effects the cold has on the body. Alcohol, a depressant, can slow the heart and also hasten the ill effects of cold body temperatures.

Fremont County Government | 450 North 2nd Street | Lander, WY  82520
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