Personnel Readiness

Preventing Frozen Pipes

When water freezes, it expands. That's why a can of soda explodes if it's put into a freezer to chill quickly and forgotten. When water freezes in a pipe, it expands the same way. If it expands enough, the pipe bursts, water escapes and serious damage can result.
Why Pipes Burst
Surprisingly, ice forming in a pipe does not typically cause a break where the ice blockage occurs. It's not the radial expansion of ice against the wall of the pipe that causes the break. Rather, following a complete ice blockage in a pipe, continued freezing and expansion inside the pipe causes water pressure to increase downstream -- between the ice blockage and a closed faucet at the end.
It's this increase in water pressure that leads to pipe failure. Usually the pipe bursts where little or no ice has formed. Upstream from the ice blockage, the water can always retreat back towards its source, so there is no pressure build-up to cause a break. Water has to freeze for ice blockages to occur. Pipes are usually safe when they are adequately protected along their entire length by placement within a building's insulation, insulation on the pipe itself, or heating.

This time of year, winter storms are very common. A major winter storm can be lethal. Preparing for cold weather conditions and responding to them effectively can reduce the dangers caused by winter storms.
When listening to weather reports during the winter season, know the terminology. A winter storm watch indicates that severe winter weather may affect your area. A winter storm warning indicates that severe winter weather conditions are occurring or definitely on the way. A blizzard warning means that winds of 35 mph or more with snow and blowing snow reducing visibility to less than one-quarter mile for three hours or more is likely.
If weather reports indicate that a winter storm is likely, prepare your home. Make sure that you have extra food and water on hand in case you are unable to get out and get supplies. You should also make sure that you have plenty of fuel on hand for generators and fireplaces in case the electricity goes out and you need to keep warm. Keep in mind that stores can become very busy when people know that a storm is on its way, so it is best to keep these supplies on hand well before a storm.
If you are going to be outdoors during the winter season, wear loose-fitting, layered, light-weight clothing. This will keep you warmer than wearing a single heavier layer. Layers can be removed to prevent perspiration and chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Wear mittens rather than gloves as mittens are warmer because fingers retain more warmth when they touch each other. Make sure that you have extra winter clothing, including boots, in your car at all times during the winter in case you become stranded.
Winter weather is a part of life in Colorado. Being prepared before severe winter weather hits will make you more comfortable, and keep you safe, during the storm.

Health Effects of Smoke from Wildfires
Although a wildfire may be very far away, people should pay attention to ambient smoke.
Wildfire smoke is a mixture of small particles, gases and water vapor. The primary health concern is the small particles. These small particles can cause burning eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat, headaches and illness (i.e., bronchitis). They can also worsen chronic heart and lung disease (i.e., asthma, emphysema and COPD).
Avoid breathing smoke if you can help it. If you are healthy, you usually are not at a major risk from smoke. People at risk include those with heart or lung diseases, children and older adults.
Use common sense to protect yourself and your family. If it looks smoky outside, it is not a good time for outdoor activities. It is also a good time for children to remain indoors. Use the following visibility guidelines to determine air quality conditions, identify health effects, and determine the exertion levels based on the visibility range:
Visibility Range: 10+ miles
Health Category: Good
Health Effects: None
Visibility Range: 5-10 miles
Health Category: Moderate
Health Effects: People who are usually sensitive should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion.
Visibility Range: 3-5 miles
Health Category: Unhealthy for sensitive groups
Health Effects: Sensitive people should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.
Visibility Range: 1.5-3 miles
Health Category: Unhealthy
Health Effects: People who are sensitive should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.
Visibility Range: 1-1.5 miles
Health Category: Very unhealthy
Health Effects: People who are sensitive should avoid all physical activity outdoors. Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.
Visibility Range: 1 mile or less
Health Category: Hazardous
Health Effects: People who are sensitive should remain indoors and keep activity levels low. Everyone else should avoid all physical activity

The 2012 National Flood Safety Awareness is March 12-16!

Information about flood & flash flood safety and preparedness can be found at

Although the water content in the snowpack is not nearly as high in most areas of the central Rocky Mountain region as it was at the same time last year, this does not mean that there will be no potential for snowmelt flooding later this spring. There are many variables that determine the threat of flooding from snowmelt, including the rate of snowmelt.

Tips To Protect Workers In Cold Environments

Prolonged exposure to freezing or cold temperatures may cause serious health problems such as trench foot, frostbite and hypothermia. In extreme cases, including cold water immersion, exposure can lead to death. Danger signs include uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, fatigue and confused behavior. If these signs are observed, call for emergency help.

OSHA's Cold Stress Card provides a reference guide and recommendations to combat and prevent many illnesses and injuries. Available in English and Spanish, this laminated fold-up card is free to employers, workers and the public. Tips include:

How to Protect Workers

Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that may be dangerous.

Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and injuries and what to do to help workers.

Train workers about cold-induced illnesses and injuries.

Encourage workers to wear proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions, including layers that can be adjusted to changing conditions.

Be sure workers in extreme conditions take a frequent short break in warm dry shelters to allow their bodies to warm up.

Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day.

Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.

Use the buddy system - work in pairs so that one worker can recognize danger signs.

Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks) and avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas or hot chocolate) or alcohol.

Eat warm, high-calorie foods such as hot pasta dishes.

Remember, workers face increased risks when they take certain medications, are in poor physical condition or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease.


The week of June19 through June 25 is Lightning Safety and Wildfire Awareness Week.. in

Colorado. This public information statement will discuss safe shelters and indoor lightning safety.

Statistics tell us that we are much less likely to become a lightning victim if we remain inside a substantial structure such as a home or office building when thunderstorms are nearby. Most people struck by lightning are in open areas such as ball fields, courses or near water, while others are struck when they are near some type of machinery. However, a small percentage of people are killed or injured by lightning even though they are indoors, so it is important to discuss indoor lightning safety.

A house or other substantial building offers the best protection from lightning. In contrast, many small open shelters on athletic fields, golf courses, parks, roadside picnic areas, schoolyards and elsewhere are designed to protect people from rain and sun, but not from lightning. Small wood, vinyl or metal sheds should be avoided during thunderstorms.

Lightning typically enters homes and buildings via either a direct strike through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure, through the ground, or through an open door or window. Once in a structure, lightning can travel through the electrical, phone and plumbing systems and through metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.

Phone use is the leading cause of indoor lightning injuries in the United States. This applies mainly to corded phones or those in contact with the base unit of a cordless phone. People have also been injured near radios and televisions, as well as other electronic devices. Open windows and doors provide a path for a direct strike to enter a home, so stay away from these locations during thunderstorms and make sure that windows and doors are closed.

When lightning is nearby, washers and dryers should be avoided because they connect with plumbing and electrical systems in your home. It is also best to avoid using bathtubs and shower stalls during a thunderstorm.

Basements are generally a safe place during thunderstorms. But avoid direct contact with concrete walls because they often contain metal reinforcing bars.

Lightning can cause significant damage to personal property each year. Unplug appliances or electronic equipment well before a thunderstorm threatens. Disconnect televisions or radios from outdoor antennas. If you plan to be away from your home when thunderstorms are possible, unplug unneeded equipment before you leave.

Here is a summary of lightning safety tips for inside the home:

1. Avoid corded phones, electrical equipment and plumbing.

2. Avoid contact with water such as taking a shower or doing laundry.

3. Stay away from windows, doors and porches.

4. Do not lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls.

Additional information about lightning and lightning safety can be

Found at the following web sites (use lower case):

Tiny amounts of radiation from Japan reach Nev.
RENO, Nev. – Nevada has joined several western states in reporting that minuscule amounts of radiation from Japan's damaged nuclear plant are showing up. But as with the other states, scientists say there is no health risk.

Extremely small amounts of the radioactive isotopes iodine-131 and xenon-133 reached a monitoring station by Las Vegas' Atomic Testing Museum this week, said Ted Hartwell, manager of the Desert Research Institute's Community Environmental Monitoring Program.

Hartwell said he's certain the isotopes came from Japan because they're not usually detected in Nevada. But he said the readings were far below levels that could pose any health risks.

"Unless you have an accident like this (in Japan) you wouldn't expect to see this. No doubt it's from Japan," Hartwell told The Associated Press.

California, Colorado, Hawaii and Washington have also reported tiny amounts of radiation from the Japan accident. Officials have said those levels also are not harmful.

Nevada health officials have said they do not expect any risk to the state from Japanese radiation releases because of the distance the materials would have to travel.

"Any material released must travel 10,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean, during which time it will be dispersed and diluted in the atmosphere to levels that might eventually be detectable, but which will not present a health hazard nor require any protective actions," said Eric Matus, radiation physicist for the Nevada State Health Division.

As temperatures plummet, it is time to take special precautions to keep your pets safe and warm.

We strongly urge that all pet guardians allow their animals to reside inside, particularly during extreme weather. However, if you leave your pet outside for any length of time, please remember the following:

•  Provide dogs with adequate food, water and shelter at all times. The shelter should be well-built, waterproof and insulated with solid walls and a sturdy floor. Your dog should have with enough room to stand, turn around and lie down comfortably with limbs outstretched. Doors should be covered with a flap to block the wind, rain and snow. It may take a bit of training and encouragement before a dog is comfortable going in and out through a door flap, but most will adapt quickly and will remain warmer and drier. Shelters should contain bedding material, such as straw, wood shavings or blankets. No matter what type of bedding, it should be checked daily to make sure that it is dry and provides adequate insulation. Shelters should be placed in an area that is protected from the wind.

• Small or short-haired pets should be kept inside as much as possible; larger breeds and thick-coated dogs may remain outside, with adequate shelter, for longer periods of time. Dogs who are elderly, sick, underweight or very young should never be kept outside.

• Precipitation and wind chill should always be taken into account when deciding to put an animal outside.

• Regular access to clean, unfrozen water is also critical. Check drinking water every few hours to ensure that it is not frozen.

• Cats should also be provided with a sheltered escape from the cold. If you have outdoor cats, be sure that they have access to a barn, garage, shed, outbuilding or porch. Dry bedding should be provided, along with fresh water and food.

• Roaming cats often seek the warmth of car engines, so be sure to knock on the car hood or honk the horn before starting your car to startle them and give them a chance to escape.

• Increase the amount of food by 10-20 percent for dogs left outside during the winter months. The extra calories are needed to help an animal to stay warm.

• If an animal is cold to the touch, or his paws and ears are pale, he may be suffering from frostbite. Move the animal to a warmer area and contact your veterinarian immediately.

 If you suspect animal abuse, please contact 970-264-2131

Winter Storm Preparedness Tips
BEFORE the storm...
  • Be familiar with winter storm warning messages.
  • Service snow removal equipment and have rock salt on hand to melt ice on walkways and kitty litter to generate temporary traction.
  • Make sure you have sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off.
Have disaster supplies on hand, in case the power goes out.
(Refer to your 72-Hour Family Preparedness Kit)
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
  • First aid kit
  • One-week supply of food (include items that do not require refrigeration or cooking in case the power is shut off)
  • Manual can opener
  • One-week supply of essential prescription medications.
  • Extra blankets and sleeping bags
  • Fire extinguisher (A-B-C type)
Develop an emergency communication plan.
  • In case family members are separated from one another during a winter storm (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.
  • Make sure that all family members know how to respond after a severe winter storm.
  • Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, or fire department, and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.

DURING the storm...
If Indoors --
  • Stay indoors and dress warmly.
  • Conserve fuel.
    • Lower the thermostat to 65 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night. Close off unused rooms.
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags.
  • Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Listen to the radio or television to get the latest information.
If Outdoors --
  • Dress warmly.
  • Wear loose-fitting, layered, light-weight clothing. Layers can be removed to prevent perspiration and chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellant. Mittens are warmer than gloves because fingers generate warmth when they touch each other.
  • Stretch before you go out.
  • If you go out to shovel snow, do a few stretching exercises to warm up your body. Also take frequent breaks.
  • Cover your mouth.
  • Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors. Try not to speak unless absolutely necessary.
  • 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.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Keep dry.
  • Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance--infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities.

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.
Click here for more information on warnings & watches from the National Weather Service.

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 (mid-body) 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.

Your Car Winter Emergency Survival Kit

Note: You may find you have special needs requiring additional items, depending on your individual needs. This list is to be considered an aid in preparing for winter travel. Those with medical conditions will want to be sure to include any necessary medication or other health aid devices.