Active Response Agencies - What are the active response agencies and how can I help make a difference in my community?
If you are interested in helping out through the local volunteer programs, here are some links to point you in the right direction:
Where can I learn more about how to protect myself and my family?
While traveling through the area, what should I prepared for?
In La Plata County, weather is our biggest daily concern and can change instantly without warning. The high peaks hide incoming threats and temperatures can swing 40 degrees during the day or from town to the ski resort. Carrying extra layers of clothing for all conditions is advisable, as well as storing a blanket, shovel, water and snacks in your car for emergencies. Keep your vehicle in good repair and ready for snow, mud and rain. Watch for deer and elk and other wildlife on the highway.
Emergency Plan - How can I develop an Emergency Plan for my business?
When developing an Emergency Plan for your business, start by identifying the hazards that may impact your facility directly or indirectly through the community. Develop plans to mitigate, or minimize, the impacts from the identified hazards. Train your employees on what to do in case of an emergency or disaster, and have easy to read, step by step instructions of procedures to follow for things like water shut off, security systems and evacuation. Plan for preparation/training, mitigation, response and don't forget recovery. Check out these resources from FEMA, Colorado and the Citizen's Corps.
What do I do if my family or I am in danger, or if my property is threatened?
Whenever you are in an immediately life threatening situation, CALL 911. If you are worried about a potential fire, flood or landslide, call OEM at 970-382-6274 for help finding further information or services. During an incident, listen to local radio, read the Durango Herald and watch the La Plata County website for updates and telephone hotline numbers.
Do not call 911 for general information.
The non-emergency number for the La Plata County Sheriff and dispatch is: 970-385-2900
The 911 call center has the ability to "Reverse 911" to call threatened area home phones in case of emergency. Reverse 911 can be initiated by the Sheriff, police, Fire or OEM to give targeted areas vital information regarding an immediate threat: evacuations or shelter in place information. In order for you to receive reverse 911, you must have a home phone. It is always best to have at least one phone that does not require electricity in case of a power outage. Sign up to receive these calls to your cell phone!
What does the Office of Emergency Management do for you?
La Plata County OEM helps to identify hazards that may affect life, property and the continuity of vital services. We prepare the county government to be ready for possible disasters. OEM works to ensure coordination between the various response agencies like fire, law enforcement, search and rescue, snow plows and the 911 call center and helps volunteers with the American Red Cross and others find where they are needed most. We operate the shelters when the power is out or your home is threatened. When disaster strikes in the form of a wildfire, landslide, snowstorm or flood, we provide information to the public and media to keep you informed. We act as an educational resource for business and personal preparedness.
What other personal risks are there?
About 40% of La Plata County's million acres is beautiful and rugged public land. The San Juan National Forest and Weminuche Wilderness are a world wide destination. Hiking, climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, hunting and four wheeling are only a few of the many outdoor activities people enjoy here. These are all inherently dangerous activities, even more so due to the remote and extreme terrain.
Who are OEM's partners?
OEM works with local responders like your fire department and law enforcement. OEM maintains relationships with city, tribal, state and federal resources. We work with the people who provide you with utilities, food and fuel. We maintain direct contact with the National Weather Service and US Bureau of Reclamation. We develop partnerships with surrounding counties. We work hand-in-hand with volunteer support groups like the American Red Cross, Search and Rescue, and Medical Reserve Corps.
What should I do to be prepared in the back country?
If you are traveling into the back country, stay within your abilities. The middle of nowhere is not the place to test your limits. Talk to the locals about your route and learn as much as you can before you go. Learn how to read a map, use a compass, operate your GPS and make a fire. Leave your itinerary with a friend and a note on your car with emergency instructions. Your cell phone will not work in most of the forest.
Get a fishing license or hiking certificate (Hunting licenses and OHV registrations work too) as this license/certificate includes insurance for search and rescue.
What should I do to be prepared at home?
There are many ways to be prepared at home and here are a few to get started:
- Educate yourself on the operation of systems in your house. Know where utility shut-offs are for your home. Learn how to safely re-light pilot lights. Keep your home tidy to prevent accidents.
- Create defensible space around your home. Wildfire is a risk everywhere in our county.
- Plan for disasters with proper insurance.
- Create a family plan.
- Make a 72-hour kit with water and supplies for you and your family.
- Prepare your car with an emergency kit and keep a full tank of gas
- Be aware of weather conditions keep up with the National Weather Service and Weather Underground
What is the Office of Emergency Management (OEM)?
The La Plata County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is a department within county government that is responsible for identification of local hazards, creation and coordination of response plans, mitigation of disasters, public preparedness education, coordination of response during escalating emergencies and disasters, recovery planning and response and coordination with other local, state and federal partners.
What are the biggest potential disasters we face in La Plata County?
A survey of potential emergencies through local first responders along with analysis of historical disasters brought a utility (especially electrical) failure during a winter storm to the forefront. This was followed closely by a winter storm, and utility failures separately. Other major concerns are infectious disease, flooding, wild fire and transportation accidents.
The combination of power loss during the winter creates a very difficult situation. Most homes use some type of electricity to heat or circulate heat. Electricity powers everything from cooking appliances to oxygen machines and is critical to most people in the county. It may take weeks to restore power lines in heavy snow and ice to all affected areas. Remember, generators, camp stoves and outdoor propane BBQ and heating appliances produce carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is the "silent killer." Only use equipment indoors that is made made specifically for indoor use!