Travel Preparedness Action List - Wildfires Disaster Mission for Colorado

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Travel Report

This disaster mission appears to be categorized as a manageable disaster (environmentally controlled surroundings, with such conveniences as available running water, accessible roads, and electrical power). In the state of Colorado two deadly and destructive wildfires in the northwestern part of the city of Colorado Springs, caused over 35,000 residents to evacuate Tuesday night, June 26, 2012. Police say a body has been found in one of the estimated 346 homes burned by the most destructive fire in the state's history, officials said Thursday, June 28, 2012. Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey said Thursday night that two people had been reported missing, and a search is continuing.

Travel Point

Region: Southwest region of the United States

Colorado

  • The area is mostly rural with some urban living. Damage has been reported mainly to the city of Colorado Springs.

Travel Climate

Weather: Summer - June/July

  • Varying weather conditions with temperatures ranging from highs in the low 90s, and dropping in the evenings to mid 60s over the next seven days. Prepare for a slight chance of isolated thunderstorms, and increased smoke areas over the next 7-days. Heat-related illness is of greater concern when temperatures are high or when work increases an individual’s heat stress. Workers exposed to hot and humid conditions are at risk of heat illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions. Heat illnesses range from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention as it can result in death.
  • Protect yourself by consulting with your supervisor and site Disaster Safety Official for site and job specific controls; report heat symptoms early to your supervisor. Drinking water often, taking breaks, and limiting time in the heat can help prevent heat illness; review local extreme heat alerts; review local emergency medical plan

Travel Health

Disaster Specific Information / News and Announcements:

Vaccinations

  • Vaccinations are available on an as needed basis. Vaccinations should always be up-to-date.
Disease Related to Travel Area
  • Currently there are no health alerts for this area at this time. Keep abreast of local health department notices.
  • Remember to bring a 2-3 month supply of all medications necessary for any medical conditions that require medical treatment on a daily basis.
  • Pack according to what the working conditions will be when you get there and the weather conditions for the area (e.g., boots, coat, long pants, long sleeves). Rain/wet gear is suggested for this deployment.
  • Be aware of stray animals that are roaming the streets and wild animals fleeing from the wildfires. Interaction with them may result in defensive attacks because of the recent activities. To prevent animal bites (possible rabies) stay away from the animals. PLEASE DO NOT PET THE ANIMALS.
Environmental Conditions
  • Down Power Lines. For those employees working in the field, there may be areas without power due to down power lines. Do not go near downed lines, even if they appear dead. They can become energized again without warning. Do not get out of your car if a downed wire is touching it. Your car will isolate you from harm. Honk your horn to alert passers-by. Roll down the window and warn people not to touch the car or the line. Ask someone to call the local utility company and emergency services. Only leave a car that is in contact with a downed power line if the vehicle catches on fire. Open the door, but do not step out; make sure that you jump completely free of the vehicle with both feet together to avoid contact with the live car (metal) and the ground at the same time. Hop as far away as possible from the vehicle keeping both feet together.
  • Wildfire Smoke and aftermath. There will be miles of debris and devastation left behind, and excessive smoke from the fires.
  • Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials.
  • Wildfire smoke can include carbon dioxide; water vapor; carbon monoxide; particulate matter; hydrocarbons and other organics; and nitrogen oxides and trace materials. Overall the composition can vary with the source of the smoke. Smoke created from wildfire would contain particulates consisting of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Wildfire smoke also contains hazardous air pollutants that occur in lower concentrations than particulates and carbon monoxide, but can still affect your health.
  • Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases. If you experience any of the following or similar symptoms, see a health care professional immediately: coughing; a scratchy throat; irritated sinuses; shortness of breath; chest pain; headaches; stinging eyes; a runny nose; asthma exacerbations. Be advised that the symptoms may be worse if you have heart or lung disease. The following are ways to protect yourself:
  • Follow your supervisor’s instructions for specific instructions or any needed personal protective equipment.
  • Pay attention and respond as needed to local air quality reports and visibility guides if available
  • If advised to stay indoors and you have capability to do so (e.g. hotel) keep windows and doors closed unless it is extremely hot outside. Run air conditioner and/or follow hotel management instructions
  • Drink more water – drinking lots of water will keep your airways moist. Breathing through a warm wet washcloth can also help relieve dryness
  • Follow your doctor's advice about medicines and about your respiratory management plan if you have asthma or another lung disease, Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen
  • Smoldering debris: may remain for weeks and could reignite if combined with combustible materials or if oxygen becomes available. (i.e. disturbing debris during cleanup operations). Be aware of the state of the debris you are handling. Contact your supervisor and/or site safety officer for task specific instructions
  • Hazardous materials. Due to the fire, you may find dislodged or damaged tanks, drums, pipes, and equipment which may contain hazardous materials. Do not handle unidentified or damaged containers- report these to your supervisor. Examples of other hazardous materials associated with wildfires are air conditioners, gasoline cans (and other fuel containers), compressed gas cylinders, propane cylinders, moldy materials; dust containing fire retardant, asbestos, ash, silica, and other toxins. Again, contact your supervisor and/or safety officer for disaster specific information.
  • Damaged structures. Never assume that fire damaged structures or ground are safe or stable. Ensure that it has been deemed safe to enter by a professional engineer or architect. Leave immediately if you hear shifting or unusual noises – a collapse may be occurring.
  • Driving. There could be issues with uncontrolled traffic, low visibility, and inexperienced drivers. Pay attention to signs, flaggers, signals, and barricades.

Basic Needs

Standard operating conditions allow for normal living conditions for this deployment.

Location: The city of Colorado Springs is impacted the most by the wildfires are located in mostly rural areas, with some developed areas.

Safety & Security

  • BE WISE!!!
    • Wear your seatbelt!
    • Lock your car! (no matter where you are)
    • Don’t carry large amounts of money around.
    • Don’t wear flashy clothing, jewelry, etc.
    • Use the buddy system at all times.

Health and Wellness

  • Worker Fatigue. Worker fatigue management is an ideal tool to execute when working in an environment such as this, were stress and fatigue are natural reactions. You will be at risk of feeling uncomfortable levels of stress. This is due to the unexpected and sometimes troubling changes to the natural order of things and the interruption of your normal routines.
  • Pace yourself; be aware; stay focused
  • Watch out for your co-workers
  • Eat and sleep by a regular a schedule as possible
  • Inform supervisor and/or site disaster safety official of fatigue concerns and need for rest breaks
  • Take rest breaks from tasks, by varying tasks, health care provider approved and exercises.
  • Eat healthy foods and exercise when possible.

Reminders

  • If you need a reasonable accommodation, you should notify immediately your supervisor and/or cadre manager. 
  • If you feel you need a break while working inform your supervisor, this will help to decrease worker fatigue and accidents.
  • Keeping your body hydrated while working keeps the risk for infection down because you are keeping your body temperature cool.
  • Using sanitation precautions while working at a disaster site will prevent the spread of disease and sickness.
  • As mentioned above, be mindful of the smoke from the wildfires. Smoke inhalation is the number one cause of death related to fires; this is not something to take lightly.
  • Review lodging and workplace occupant emergency plan for site specific emergency plans, in the case of a possible evacuation or medical emergency.

Travel Updates and Alerts

Please check periodically for updates on current conditions of this area in Colorado. This will keep you accurately informed. If you have any further questions upon arrival you can reference your Safety Officer on-site.

Last Updated: 
06/10/2013 - 13:23