Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security
FORT CARSON, Colo. — With summer quickly approaching, it is time to consider several hazards which have the potential to affect the Fort Carson community. ’Tis the season for severe thunder and lightning storms, which can start fires and create flash flood conditions.
Extreme weather happens throughout the year, however, the current focus of the emergency management staff in Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) is on the summer extreme weather conditions and wildfires. Extreme weather includes tornadoes, hailstorms, flooding and severe thunderstorms.
This time of year, humidity is very low, typically in the single digits or in the teens, which can lead to very dry fire conditions. These conditions provide for an intense wildland fire season, yet the periodic flash floods can menace many of the creeks.
The one thing each of these extreme weather conditions or wildfires have in common is each individual person and how well-prepared a person is. Now is the time to think about preparing emergency kits and talking with family about creating a plan in the case of severe weather or wildfires.
What is the plan? How will family members communicate? What about pets? If power is lost for an extended period of time, is there enough shelf stable food and potable water on hand to last for three days?
Fort Carson community members should consider participating in the following activities to help prepare for future severe weather events.
• Sign up for local alerts and warnings by enrolling in Fort Carson’s emergency warning and mass notification system, called AtHoc; a link is on the Fort Carson homepage
• El Paso County operates a mass warning notification system as well; register cell phone numbers by visiting the El Paso-Teller 911 Authority at https://elpasoteller911.org
• Assemble or update emergency supplies for home, car and workplace
• Learn about local hazards and create a Family Emergency Plan; don’t forget pets
• Collect and safeguard critical documents, keep them in a fireproof, safe place or create password-protected digital copies
• Document property and obtain appropriate insurance for relevant hazards
• Make property improvements to reduce potential injury and property damage
• Plan with neighbors to help each other and share resources
A wildfire is an unplanned fire burning in a natural area such as a forest, grassland or prairie. Wildfires can:
• Often be caused by humans or lightning
• Cause flooding or disrupt transportation, gas, power and communications
• Happen anywhere, anytime, and risk increases with periods of little rain and high winds
• Cost the federal government billions of dollars each year
When under a wildfire warning, get to safety right away:
• Leave if told to do so
• If trapped, call 911
• Listen for emergency information and alerts
• Use N95 masks to keep from breathing particles in the air
Understanding the differences between watches and warnings as issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will assist you in planning next actions.
A tornado watch is issued when severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are possible, in and near the watch area. It does not mean they will occur. It only means they are possible. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado is imminent. When a tornado warning is issued, seek safe shelter immediately.
A severe thunderstorm warning is issued when severe thunderstorms are occurring or imminent in the warning area. Severe thunderstorms are defined as follows:
1) Winds of 58 mph or higher and/or
2) Hail that is one inch in diameter or larger
Before venturing out, monitor weather forecasts for intended travel area and the route planned to get there. Be aware of warning signs during activities: darkening cloud cover, high winds, rainfall, thunder and flashes of light are the warning signs for possible cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. Dense white or light gray smoke is anindicator of a fire. Listen to weather-alert radios, TV or commercial radio or use a weather application on smart phones to stay informed about thunderstorm watches and warnings or information about wildfires.