Types of emergencies

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It is not always obvious at the outset whether a seemingly minor event might be the initial phase of a larger, rapidly growing threat. A disaster, or other event of significance, represents the occurrence or imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury, or loss of life or property, or significant adverse impact on the environment, resulting from any natural disaster, act of terrorism, and other types of events.

Actions common to all types of hazards

Regardless of what type of disaster or event that may affect you and your family, there are steps you can take to help you before, during, and after the event to reduce its impacts.

  • Listen to your radio, television, or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information from public officials.
  • Pay attention to announcements by emergency management, fire or law enforcement officials regarding actions the public should take.
  • Talk to your insurance agent to ensure proper coverage for your residence or other personal property if you are at risk from types of natural hazards.
  • Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions and take appropriate precautions when necessary.

Natural hazards

The Colorado Springs area has endured numerous natural disasters including flooding, wildfire, landslides, and severe weather events. There is no certainty that future disasters will be equal, less, or greater than the magnitude of previous disasters. However, as the city continues to grow, the consequences from a major disaster are increasing. Located in the middle of two major topographic influences – the Rocky Mountains and the Palmer Divide – Colorado Springs frequently experiences extreme weather conditions.

Extreme Heat

Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. Most heat-related illnesses or deaths occur because the victim has been overexposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition. Older adults, young children, and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to succumb to extreme heat.

Before extreme heat

  • To keep cool air inside, ensure weather stripping on doors and sills is in good condition.
  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades or awnings.
  • Install air conditioners and insulate gaps.
  • Insulate gaps in window and door frames.

During a heat emergency

  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
  • Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
  • Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities.
  • Drink plenty of water and limit intake of alcoholic beverages to prevent dehydration.
  • Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
  • Protect your face and head by wearing a wide brimmed hat.
  • Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and are frequently alone.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.


Historically, flash flooding is the deadliest and most damaging hazard to affect Colorado Springs. This natural disaster continues to pose a high-priority threat to Colorado Springs. Flooding can occur along a waterway in one drainage area or in larger watersheds. Flash floods can develop quickly, sometimes in just a few minutes and without any visible signs of rain. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water that carries rocks, mud, and other debris and can sweep away most things in its path.

Flood Facts

  • Six inches of moving water can make an adult fall.
  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pick-ups.

Before a flood

  • Check the FEMA National Flood Insurance website (www.floodsmart.gov) to determine the risk of flooding.
  • Elevate and reinforce your residence if you live or plan to build in a flood prone area.
  • Elevate the furnace, water heater, and electric panel if your residence or business is susceptible to flooding.
  • Install back-flow valves in piping to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your residence.
  • Seal the walls in your basement with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.
  • Move to higher ground if there is any possibility of a flash flood.

During a flood

  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas known to suddenly flood. A “dry” creek bed will carry water in the event of a rain event.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
  • Secure your residence by bringing in outdoor furniture and moving essential items to an upper floor, only if it is safe to do so.
  • Avoid walking through moving water.

After a flood

  • Listen for news reports to learn whether the water supply is safe to drink.
  • Avoid floodwater as it may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, raw sewage, or may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Return to your residence only when authorities indicate it is safe.
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings due to potential hidden water damage.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that was wet.

Landslide or Debris Flow

Recorded landslides in the Colorado Springs area date back to at least 1959. The majority of the landslides in Colorado Springs occur in the foothills and west of Interstate 25.

Debris flows are rivers of rock, earth, and other debris saturated with water. They develop when water rapidly accumulates in the ground during heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt, changing the earth into a flowing river of mud or slurry. They can flow rapidly, striking with little or no warning. They also can travel several miles from their source, growing in size as they pick up trees, boulders, cars, and other materials.

Landslide Warning Signs

  • Landscape changes such as water drainage, land movement, small slides, or progressively leaning trees.
  • Doors or windows stick or jam for the first time.
  • New cracks appear in plaster, tile, brick, or foundations.
  • Outside walls, sidewalks, or stairs begin pulling away from the building.
  • Widening or newly appearing cracks on the ground.
  • Underground utility lines break.
  • Bulging ground appears at the base of a slope.
  • Water breaks through the ground surface in new locations.
  • Fences, retaining walls, utility poles, or trees tilt or move.
  • Unusual sounds such as a faint rumbling, trees cracking or boulders knocking together.
  • Collapsed pavement, mud, or fallen rocks.

Before a landslide or debris flow

  • Do not build near steep slopes, close to mountain edges, near drainage ways, or areas of natural erosion.
  • Obtain a geologic hazard assessment of your property.
  • Ask local officials for information on landslides in your area.
    • Rocky Mountain USGS – (303) 236-5438.
    • Colorado Springs Land Development Review – (719) 385-5905.

During a landslide or debris flow

  • Evacuate if it is safe to do so or if advised by local officials.
  • Move to an above ground level if possible.
  • Listen for unusual sounds that indicate moving debris, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together.
  • Be alert for any sudden increase or decrease in water flow and for a change from clear to muddy water because such changes may indicate landslide activity upstream.
  • Be alert when driving along embankments near roadsides as they are particularly susceptible to landslides.
  • Watch the road for collapsed pavement, mud, fallen rocks, and other indications of possible debris flows.

After a landslide or debris flow

  • Avoid the slide area if possible as there may be danger of additional slides.
  • Check for injured and trapped persons without entering the direct slide area.
  • Help neighbors who may need assistance.
  • Look for and report broken utility lines, damaged roadways and railways.
  • Check the building foundation, chimney, and surrounding land for damage.

Protect your residence

  • Have a professional install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks.
  • Plant ground cover on slopes and build retaining walls.
  • Replant damaged ground as soon as possible. Erosion caused by loss of ground cover can lead to flash flooding and additional landslides.

Thunderstorms and Lightning

The Colorado Springs area is subject to intense thunderstorms with high rates of precipitation, hail, flash floods, high winds, and lightning strikes. Some of the most costly disasters along Colorado’s Front Range are a result of high winds and hail damage. In addition, Colorado has over 500,000 lightning strikes per year and has the fourth highest lightning fatality rate in the United States over the last 50 years.

Lightning Facts

  • It is unpredictable.
  • Lightning may occur as far as 10 miles away from rainfall.
  • Most lightning deaths and injuries occur in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.
  • Chances of being struck by lightning are estimated to be 1 in 600,000.
  • Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.
  • Rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide no protection from lightning.

Before a thunderstorm

  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage.
  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Shutter windows or close blinds, shades, or curtains and secure outside doors.
  • Remain indoors 30 minutes before and after a thunderstorm.

During a thunderstorm avoid

  • Showering or bathing: plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Corded telephones; cordless and cellular telephones are safer.
  • Power surges; unplug appliances and electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners.
  • Natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
  • Hilltops, open fields, the beach, or a boat on the water.
  • Isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.

If you are outside

  • Get inside a residence, building, or hard top automobile if possible.
  • Seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees if in a forested area.
  • Be aware of flash flooding.
  • If you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning is about to strike):
    • Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet.
    • Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees.
    • Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground.
    • DO NOT lie flat on the ground.


Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. They may strike quickly and with little or no warning. Tornado season is spring to summer with June having the most recorded tornadoes. Although tornadoes are rare in Colorado Springs, they occur in the eastern portions of El Paso County.

Before a tornado

  • Look for the following danger signs:
  • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
    • Loud roar, similar to a freight train
  • Be prepared to take shelter immediately.

If you are in a structure

  • Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level.
  • Go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls if there is no basement.
  • Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.
  • Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.
  • Do not open windows.

If you are in a vehicle, trailer or mobile home

• Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building, or a storm shelter.

• Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.

If you are outside without shelter

• Never try to outrun a tornado. As soon as you are alerted to an emergency in your area, follow these steps and be prepared to leave immediately:

▪▪ Lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands.

▪▪ Do not get under an overpass or bridge because these structures can intensify the wind.

▪▪ Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.


Much of Colorado Springs is within the Wildland Urban Interface and because the City is located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, much of the Interface is adjacent to steep mountainous forests. Interface areas also exist around Palmer Park, University Park, and the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. The threat of wildland fires for people living near wildland areas is real. Dry conditions at various times of the year greatly increase the potential for wildland fires. Protecting your residence from wildfire is a shared responsibility.

Prepare your residence now

  • Remove items that will burn from around the house, including wood piles, shrubs that are against the building, and wood mulch (use rock mulch instead).
  • Replace cedar shake roofs with new low-flammability shingles.
  • Consider replacing wooden siding with nonflammable siding or stucco.
  • Have trees trimmed so branches are not over or near the structures.
  • Keep roof gutters clear of debris.
  • Remove fallen leaves/pine needles as soon as possible after they fall.

Before the fire approaches your residence

  • Prepare an emergency evacuation kit for your household.
  • Ensure you have Communication and Evacuation Plans.
  • Anyone with medical or physical limitations and the young and the elderly should be evacuated immediately.
  • Clear items from around the house that will burn, including wood piles, lawn furniture, grills, tarp coverings, etc.

• Close all external doors and windows, inside to outside vents, shutters, blinds, or heavy noncombustible window coverings to reduce radiant  heat.

• Close all doors inside the house to prevent draft.

• Open the damper on your fireplace, but close the fireplace screen.

• Shut off any natural gas, propane, or fuel oil supplies at the source.

• Fill any pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, tubs, or other large containers with water.

• Place a ladder against the house in clear view.

• Back your vehicle into the garage and roll up the windows. Place your evacuation kit, valuable papers, mementos, and anything “you can’t live without” inside the vehicle.

• Disconnect any automatic garage door openers so that doors can still be opened by hand if the power goes out. Keep the garage doors closed.

Prepare to leave

• Turn on outside lights and leave a light on in every room to make the house more visible in heavy smoke.

• Leave doors and windows closed but unlocked. It may be necessary for firefighters to gain quick entry into your residence to fight fire.

• Evacuate your pets and family members when an evacuation order is given.

• It is okay to leave before an evacuation order is given. If you do not feel safe, evacuate right away.

• Notify relatives of your location.

What to do during a wildfire

If you are trapped at your residence:

  • Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the residence. Fire conditions and smoke will be much worse outside.

If you are in a vehicle:

  • Stay in your vehicle in an emergency. It is preferred to running from a fire on foot.
  • Roll up windows, close air vents, and drive slowly with the headlights on.
  • Do not drive through heavy smoke.
  • Try to park in an open area, turn headlights on, and leave the ignition on if you have to stop.
  • Get on the floor of the vehicle and cover up with a blanket or coat.
  • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.

Evacuate, Structure, Vehicle, Foot

We tell residents that evacuation should ALWAYS be their first option. If that is not possible, they are safer in a structure than in a vehicle. They are safer in a vehicle than on foot. As bad as it may get, it will be worse outside of the structure or vehicle. Stay inside.

If caught in the open:

  • Seek an open area free of trees and shrubs.
  • Try to move to the backside if on a steep mountainside.
  • Avoid canyons, natural chimneys and saddles as fire and heat condense and move up these quickly.
  • Lie face down along the road cut or in the ditch on the uphill side if a road is nearby.
  • Cover yourself with anything that will shield you from the heat.
    • Lie down and point your feet toward the flame.
    • Protect your airway.
    • Do not use a wet bandana.

Winter Storm

Although Colorado Springs generally experiences mild winters, typically the area is hit with one or two major snowstorms or extreme cold temperature events each year. One of the primary concerns is the winter weather’s ability to knock out heat, power, and communications services to your residence or office, sometimes for days at a time. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region. The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as the “Deceptive Killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. Instead, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads or of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. It is important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes.

Before a winter storm

• Add rock salt, sand, and snow shovels to your vehicle emergency supply kit.

• Prepare your vehicle for winter weather (e.g., test heater and defrosters, put in winter grade oil, ensure all-weather or snow tires are installed).

• Wear or take along several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing and carry gloves or mittens and a winter hat and scarf.

• Stock sufficient heating fuel or wood for burning in case electricity or other fuel sources are interrupted.

• Insulate walls and attics, caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.

• Insulate pipes and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.

• Learn how to shut off water valves in case pipes freeze and burst.

During a winter storm

• Conserve fuel by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.

• Ensure your ventilation pipes are not blocked. Blockages could create a backup of carbon monoxide in your residence.

• Drive only if it is absolutely necessary.

If you are outdoors:

• Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow to prevent a heart attack or other injuries.

• Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth.

• Stay dry or change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat.

• Watch for signs of frostbite such as loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose.

• Watch for signs of hypothermia including uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.

• To assist a hypothermia victim:

▪▪ Move the victim to a warm location.

▪▪ Remove wet clothing.

▪▪ Put the person in dry clothing and wrap his/her entire body in a blanket.

▪▪ Warm the center of the body first.

▪▪ Give warm, non-alcoholic or non-caffeinated beverages if the victim is conscious.

▪▪ Get medical help as soon as possible.

If you are driving:

• Travel during daylight hours.

• Travel with more than one person.

• Keep others informed of your location and schedule.

• Stay on main roads; avoid back road shortcuts.

If you become trapped or stranded in a vehicle:

  • Try to move the vehicle to the side of the road if possible.
  • Turn on hazard lights.
  • Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you.
  • Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm.
  • Protect yourself from possible carbon monoxide poisoning by opening a downwind window slightly while your vehicle is running. Periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe.
  • Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion.
  • Huddle with passengers and use your coat, blanket, road maps, seat covers, and floor mats for warmth.
  • Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.
  • Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Conserve car battery power by balancing the use of lights, heat, and radio with supply.
  • Turn on the inside light at night so work crews or rescuers can see you.

Health hazards

Pandemic Influenza

A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. It is determined by how the disease spreads, not how many deaths it causes. When a new influenza A virus emerges, a flu pandemic can occur. Because the virus is new, the human population has little to no immunity against it. The virus spreads quickly from person-to-person worldwide.

Most experts believe that you get the flu when a person with the flu coughs, sneezes, or talks and droplets containing their germs land in your mouth or nose. You can also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes, or nose.

Health professionals are concerned about viruses showing the following characteristics:

  • It is a never before seen combination of human, swine or avian influenza viruses.
  • It spreads from human to human.
  • Healthy, young adults are the most affected (unlike seasonal flu).
  • The virus continues to evolve.

Service disruptions by hospitals, health care facilities, banks, stores, restaurants, government offices, and post offices are possible during a pandemic.

Healthcare considerations

  • Ask your health care provider and health insurance company if you can get an extended prescription for your regular drugs and medical supplies.
  • Stock a supply of nonprescription drugs, such as pain relievers, cough and cold medicines, stomach remedies, and anti-diarrheal medication, as well as vitamins and fluids with electrolytes (such as sports drinks).
  • Store health and cleaning supplies, such as bleach, tissues, a thermometer, disposable gloves, soap, and alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Consider how to care for people with access and functional needs in case the services they rely on are not available.

Employment considerations

  • Ask your employer about plans to have staff stay home when they or family members are sick.
  • Check with your employer or union about leave policies.
  • Find out your employer’s plans to keep the business functioning if key staff are not available to work.
  • Find out if you can work from home.
  • Plan for the possible reduction or loss of income if you are unable to work or your place of employment is closed.

School and daycare considerations

  • Ask your child’s school or day care center if they plan to encourage sick children to stay home during a flu pandemic.
  • Plan learning and recreational activities in case your child’s school or daycare center is closed.
  • Consider alternative childcare needs.

Source: El Paso County Public Health and flu.gov

Fight the Flu! It Starts With You -Here’s how to limit the spread of germs and prevent infection

  • Get vaccinated: Influenza or “flu” can cause serious illness. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family.
  • Wash your hands: Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based sanitizers if soap and water are unavailable. Rub for 20 seconds until hands re dry. Clean your hands each time you sneeze or cough.
  • Stay home if you’re sick: Flu viruses go wherever you go when you are infected. Stay at home and check with your healthcare provider when needed. Avoid close contact with sick people and teach your children to stay away from others as much as possible if they are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth: Try not to touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. If you touch surfaces with the flu virus, you can get the flu by touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze: Cover your mouth and your nose with a tissue or your sleeve, not your hand, when you cough or sneeze. Place used tissues in a wastebasket, preferably one with a lid. Wash your hands.

Source: Colorado State Department of Health and Environment


Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property for purposes of intimidation, coercion, or ransom. Acts of terrorism include threats of terrorism, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, cyber attacks, bomb threats, and explosions. To carry out these activities, terrorists use chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons as well as explosive devices. These weapons and devices are often referred to as CBRNE.

High-risk targets for acts of terrorism include military and civilian government facilities, airports, large cities, and high-profile landmarks. Terrorists might also target large public gatherings, water and food supplies, utilities, and corporate centers. Further, terrorists are capable of spreading fear by sending explosives or chemical and biological agents through the mail.

Within the immediate area of a terrorist event, you would need to rely on police, fire, and other officials for instructions. However, you can prepare in much the same way you would prepare for other crisis events.

The following are general guidelines:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Move or leave if you feel uncomfortable or if something does not seem right.
  • Take precautions when traveling. Be aware of conspicuous or unusual behavior. Do not accept packages from strangers. Do not leave luggage unattended. You should promptly report unusual behavior, suspicious or unattended packages, and strange devices to the police or security personnel.
  • Learn where emergency exits are located in buildings you frequent. Plan how to get out in the event of an emergency.
  • Be prepared to do without services you normally depend on: electricity, telephone, natural gas, gasoline pumps, cash registers, ATMs, and Internet transactions.

Information related to terrorism is included in this guide to provide a comprehensive understanding of potential hazards in our community.

Chemical Weapon

Chemical agents are poisonous vapors, aerosols, liquids, and solids that have toxic effects on people, animals, or plants. They can be released by bombs or sprayed from aircraft, boats, and vehicles. Signs of a chemical release include difficulty breathing, eye irritation, losing coordination, becoming nauseated, or having a burning sensation in the nose, throat, and lungs. Large numbers of dead insects or birds may indicate a chemical agent release.

Before a chemical attack

  • Check your emergency supply kit to make sure it includes:
    • A roll of duct tape and scissors.
    • Plastic for doors, windows, and vents for the room in which you will shelter-in-place.
  • Measure and cut the plastic for each opening.
  • Choose an internal room to shelter, preferably one without windows and on the highest level.

During a chemical attack

  • • Close doors and windows.
  • • Turn off all ventilation, including furnaces, air conditioners, vents, and fans.
  • • Seek shelter in an internal room and take your emergency supply kit.
  • • Seal the room with duct tape and plastic.
  • If you are outside:
    • Move away immediately in a direction upwind of the source.
    • Find shelter as quickly as possible.

After a chemical attack

  • Do not leave the safety of a shelter to go outdoors to help others until authorities announce it is safe.
  • Decontamination is needed within minutes of exposure to minimize health consequences.
    • Seek immediate medical attention from a professional if contaminated.
    • Decontaminate yourself and assist in decontaminating others if medical help is not immediately available.

Biological Weapon

Biological agents are organisms or toxins that can kill or incapacitate people, livestock, and crops. Examples of biological agents used as weapons are bacteria, viruses, and toxins. Biological agents can be dispersed by spraying them into the air, infecting animals that carry the disease to humans, or contaminating food and water. Children and older adults are particularly vulnerable to biological agents.

Before a biological attack

  • Check with your doctor to make sure all immunizations are up-to-date.
  • Install High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters in your furnace.

During a biological attack

  • Be patient as public health officials need time to assess  the situation and provide recommended actions.
  • Be suspicious of any symptoms you notice but do not assume that any illness is a result of the attack.

After a biological attack

  • Delivery of medical services for a biological event may be handled differently to respond to increased demand.

Radiological or Nuclear Device

Terrorist use of a radiological dispersion device (RDD), otherwise known as a “dirty nuke” or “dirty bomb,” is considered more likely than use of a traditional nuclear bomb. An RDD combines a conventional explosive device—such as a bomb—with radioactive material. It is designed to scatter dangerous and sub-lethal amounts of radioactive material over a general area.

A nuclear device can range from a weapon carried by an intercontinental missile launched by a hostile nation or terrorist organization to a small portable nuclear device transported by an individual. All nuclear devices cause deadly effects when exploded, including blinding light, intense heat (thermal radiation), initial nuclear radiation, blast, fires started by the heat pulse, and secondary fires caused by the destruction.

The three factors for protecting oneself from radiation and fallout are:

  • Distance - The greater the distance between your sheltering location and the fallout particles outside, the better.
  • Shielding - The heavier and denser the materials - thick walls, concrete, bricks, books, and earth between you and the fallout particles, the better.
  • Time - Fallout radiation loses its intensity fairly rapidly.

Before a RDD/nuclear event

  • Make a list of places with basements or the windowless center area of middle floors in high-rise buildings.
  • Increase your disaster supplies from three days to two weeks.

During a RDD/nuclear event

  • Take shelter immediately in the nearest undamaged building, preferably underground or in an interior room of a building.
  • Move upwind and away from the incident if appropriate shelter is not available.
  • Turn off ventilation and heating systems, and close or block indoor to outdoor accesses or venting.
  • Seal windows and external doors with duct tape to reduce infiltration of radioactive particles.
  • If you are outside during a nuclear event and are unable to get inside immediately:
    • Do not look at the flash or fireball. It can blind you!
    • Take cover behind anything that might offer protection.
    • Lie flat on the ground and cover your head. If the explosion is some distance away, it could take 30 seconds or more for the blast wave to hit.
    • Take shelter as soon as you can, even if you are many miles from where the attack occurred. Radioactive fallout can be carried by the winds for hundreds of miles.
    • Remember the three protective factors: distance, shielding, and time.

Decontamination Actions Following a Terrorist Attack




Flush eyes with water. Remove eyeglasses or contact lenses. Put glasses in a pan of household bleach to decontaminate them, and then rinse and dry.



Cut off contaminated clothing normally removed over the head. 



Wash face and hair with soap and water and rinse thoroughly.

Decontaminate other body areas likely to have been contaminated by blotting (do not swab or scrape) with a cloth soaked in soapy water and rinse with clear water.

Remove and bag your clothes and personal items and follow official instructions for proper disposal.

Isolate the contaminated clothing away from you and others.

Seek medical assistance. Proceed to a medical facility for screening and professional treatment.

You may be advised to stay away from others or even quarantined.



After a RDD event

• Do not return to or visit an RDD incident location for any reason.

After a Nuclear event

• The heaviest fallout would be limited to the area at or downwind from the explosion, and 80 percent of the fallout would occur during the first 24 hours.

• It might be necessary for those in the areas with highest radiation levels to shelter for up to a month.

• People in lower radiation areas may be allowed to come out of shelter within a few days and, if necessary, evacuate to unaffected areas.

Explosive Device

Terrorists commonly use explosive devices as weapons. Bombs have been used to damage and destroy financial,political, social, and religious institutions. Attacks have occurred in public places and on city streets with thousands of people around the world injured and killed.

During and after an explosion

  • Get under a sturdy table or desk if things are falling around you.
  • Leave the building as quickly as possible.
    • Do not use elevators.
    • Watch for weakened floors and stairways.
    • Do not stand in front of windows, glass doors, or other potentially hazardous areas.
  • Move away from sidewalks or streets to be used by emergency officials or others still exiting the building.

If you are trapped in debris

  • Avoid unnecessary movement to minimize airborne dust.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with anything you have on hand to protect your lungs from dust.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can hear where you are.
  • Shout only as a last resort to avoid inhaling dangerous amounts of dust.

Cyber Threat

Cyber terrorism is the use of computer technology to coerce or intimidate a civilian population or government or to disrupt critical national infrastructure or systems such as the financial and communications industry, transportation systems, and utilities such as energy and water distribution. If not properly protected, your computer systems can be used to launch attacks against government and industry, often to steal or destroy information such as financial data or personal identities.

Because individuals and organizations can reach any place on the internet without regard to national or geographic boundaries, intruders into your residence may be located thousands of miles away. Locking the front door to your house will not stop cyber terrorists, but you can help protect yourself and your family by following basic protocols to minimize exposure and risk to potential cyber threats.

Steps to protect yourself and your computer

  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware programs and keep them up-to-date.
  • Install a firewall and keep it properly configured.
  • Regularly install security patches and other updates for your computer’s operating system.
  • Use passwords that cannot be easily guessed.
  • Lock your computer when you are away from it.
  • Disconnect your computer from the internet when not in use.
  • Do not reply to e-mail or pop-up messages that ask for personal or financial information.
  • Do not cut and paste a link from the message into your Web browser.
  • Backup all of your data on a regular basis.
  • Be wary of communicating with strangers over the internet.

For more information on cyber security, visit www.OnGuardOnline.gov.

Other hazards

Hazardous Materials

Chemicals purify drinking water, increase crop production, and simplify household chores. Hazardous materials are those that can cause death, serious injury, long-lasting health effects, and damage to buildings, residences, and other property.

There are many sources of hazardous materials in Colorado Springs and the surrounding area. These sources include chemical manufacturers, service stations, hospitals, and hazardous materials disposal sites. Products containing hazardous chemicals are routinely used and stored in residences. Hazardous materials are also shipped daily on area highways and railroads.

Before a hazardous materials incident

Contact the Colorado Springs Fire Department, Division of the Fire Marshal, at (719) 385-5978, to find out more about chemical hazards in your area and what can be done to minimize the risk to individuals and the community.

During a hazardous materials incident

  • Follow instructions for sheltering-in-place or evacuation from local public safety authorities.
  • Stay away from the contaminated area.
  • If you are outside:
    • Stay upstream, uphill, and upwind.
    • Try to go at least one-half mile (usually 8-10 city blocks) from the danger area.
    • Move away from the contaminated area and warn others of the danger.
    • Cover your mouth with a cloth while leaving the area and try not to inhale gases, fumes, and smoke.
    • Stay away from victims until the hazardous material has been identified.

After a hazardous materials incident

  • Act quickly if you have come in contact with or have been exposed to hazardous chemicals. Do the following:
    • Follow decontamination instructions from local authorities.
    • Seek medical treatment for unusual symptoms.
    • Place exposed clothing and shoes in tightly sealed containers and contact local authorities to find out about proper disposal.
    • Advise everyone who comes in contact with you that you may have been exposed to a toxic substance.
  • Report any lingering vapors or other hazards to your local public safety authorities.
  • Return to your residence only when authorities say it is safe

Household Chemical Emergency

Nearly every household uses products containing hazardous materials or chemicals. Although the risk of a chemical accident is slight, knowing how to handle these products and how to react during an emergency can reduce the risk of injury. Common hazardous household items include cleaning, automotive, lawn/garden, woodworking, and painting products.

Colorado Springs residents should dispose of hazardous household chemicals properly by taking them to the El Paso County Household Hazardous Waste Facility located at 3255 Akers Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80922. This is a free service to El Paso and Teller County residents. A donation of nonperishable food items is encouraged. For additional information, please phone 719-520-7871.

Preventing Household Chemical Accidents

  • Post the number of the emergency medical services and the poison control center by all telephones.
  • Buy only as much chemical as you think you will use.
  • Keep products containing hazardous materials in their original containers.
  • Never store hazardous products in food containers.
  • Never mix household hazardous chemicals or waste with other products. Incompatibles, such as chlorine bleach and ammonia, may react, ignite, or explode.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper use of the household chemical.
  • Never smoke while using household chemicals.
  • Never use hair spray, cleaning solutions, paint products, or pesticides near an open flame.
  • Use rags, wear gloves, and protect eyes while cleaning up any chemical spill.
  • Dispose of household hazardous waste by taking it to the household hazardous waste facility.

Symptoms of Household Chemical Poisoning

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irritation of the eyes, skin, throat, or respiratory tract
  • Changes in skin color
  • Headache or blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • Cramps or diarrhea

What to do if exposed to household chemicals

  • Locate the chemical container in order to provide requested label information.
  • Call 911 immediately if you are experiencing any symptoms.
  • Call the National Poison Control Center (NPCC) at 1 (800) 222-1222.
  • Follow the NPCC emergency operator’s first aid instructions carefully. First aid advice found on containers may be out of date or inappropriate.
  • Do not take or give anything by mouth unless advised to do so by a medical professional.
  • Remove and bag your clothes and personal items. Follow official instructions for disposal of contaminated items.

Power Outage

Power outages in Colorado Springs are most commonly associated with summertime electrical storms, high wind events, and severe winter snow or ice storms. Intermittent power outages may even be caused by traffic accidents, fires, building or construction activities, or regularly scheduled services by Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU).

Before a power outage

  • Fill plastic containers with water, leaving about an inch of space inside each one for the frozen water to expand. Place the containers in the refrigerator and freezer. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold for several hours if the power goes out.
  • Medication that requires refrigeration usually can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem.
  • Back up computer files and operating systems.
  • Turn off and unplug major appliances and sensitive electric equipment until after power is restored.
  • Purchase a high-quality surge protector for electronic equipment.
  • Locate the manual release for your electric garage door opener and learn how to operate it.
  • Keep a traditional, non-cordless telephone available or plan for alternate communication, including a cell phone or radio.
  • Keep your car fuel tank at least half-full because gas stations rely on electricity to power the pumps.
  • Make sure to have extra cash at your residence because equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) may not work during a power outage.
  • Call the Colorado Springs Utilities Line Clearance at 719-448-4800 if you need tree branches trimmed in or around electric lines.
  • Make arrangements to prepare for unpredictable power outages if you are on electric-powered life support systems by calling Colorado Springs Utilities at 719-448-4800 and asking about the Life Support Notification Program.

During a power outage

• Use a flashlight whenever possible rather than candles or kerosene lanterns, which are a fire hazard.

• Do not use your range or oven to heat your residence as this can cause a fire or fatal gas leak.

• Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.

• Treat each signal as a stop sign if traffic signals are not working.

• Do not call 911 to ask about the power outage.

After a power outage

  • In the event of a major storm, the status of your utilities may be monitored through the Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) web page at www.csu.org.
  • Look for damage to an outside metal pipe or tube called a “mast,” that feeds electricity from overhead lines into the meter on your house.
    • This mast is the responsibility of the resident and is typically located at the roofline or the side of a residence coming out of the meter.
    • The mast should not be touched. Customers can inspect the mast from a safe distance and call a licensed electrician for repairs if it is damaged.
    • Once the mast is repaired by an electrician, CSU can restore power to the residence.

For additional information on power outages and other utility disruptions, see the Colorado Springs Utilities website at www.csu.org.