Winter Storm Safety ***Exercise***

Record amounts of snow fall have been recorded around Southwest Colorado. La Plata County and the City of Durango are working closely to ensure the safety of residence throughout the region. They are encouraging everyone to stay at home and in touch with loved ones to help promote the wellbeing of themselves and those they love.

Power outages are sporadic throughout the area and are expected to continue while local officials work to identify all regions affected. All residents are encouraged to conserve energy during this regional shortage:

  • Turn off lights and computers when not in use.
  • Wash clothes in cold water if possible; wash only full loads and clean the dryer’s lint trap after each use.
  • When using a dishwasher, wash full loads and use the light cycle. If possible, use the rinse only cycle and turn off the high temperature rinse option. When the regular wash cycle is done, just open the dishwasher door to allow the dishes to air dry.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent lights.

If you have lost power please consider the following:

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. First use perishable food from the refrigerator. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours.
  • It looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
  • Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.
  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
  • Those with special needs should contact their case manager, if they have one for further instruction and support.
  • When using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a portable generator to a home’s electrical system.

For those experiencing loss of heat many small steps can be taken that can make a big difference in saying warm:

  • Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, wear mittens and a hat (preferably one that covers your ears).
  • Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • If you have a frozen water main please contact the City of Durango at (970) 444-4444
  • Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold.

Some residences have experienced gas leaks resulting in fires. Please be aware of the smell of gas in or around your home. Be sure snow is cleared from around both the pipe that brings the gas into your home, and where it leaves the propane tank to prevent a leak. Turn off the gas to your home if you smell gas and call (970)444-4444.

As snow loads increase on roof tops, roofs need to be shoveled, especial mobile homes. Extra care and caution should be taken while accessing roof tops. Be sure gas vents are open to prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Hazardous road conditions exist thought both the City and County. Main highways including 160 and 550 have been closed. Do not travel outside your home unless absolutely necessary and alert others of you travel time and destination checking, in with them once you have arrived.

Residence should also keep in mind the safety and wellbeing of pets and livestock. Bring house hold pets inside to protect them from the harsh elements and be sure livestock have access to fresh food and water.

For more information please visit the Red Cross at

Winter Blast 2014 ***Exercise****

Durango, CO – The National Weather Service has forecasted heavy snow and thunderstorms to continue throughout the day.  Snow loads and deep drifts are hampering access. The Colorado Department of Transportation has closed Highway 550 north of Durango Mountain Resort and east of Bayfield.  The Durango-La Plata County Airport is closed.

  • Motorists are advised to use caution as the roads are icy and treacherous.  If possible, citizens are asked to stay in their homes.
  • Shelters and warming stations established for those who have lost their heat or power.  Those who have lost their heat or power are welcome to warm or shelter.

Warming Stations have been set up at:

    • Upper Pine Fire Station north of Vallecito Lake
    • Sky Ute Casino
    • La Plata County Fairgrounds
    • City of Durango Rec Center

Shelters have been set up at:

    • Animas Valley Elementary
    • Ft. Lewis Mesa Elementary
    • Sunnyside Elementary
    • Bayfield High School

La Plata County Emergency Management has set opened their Emergency Operations Center and has a hotline for residents with special needs: (970) 555-5555.

  • If you smell gas inside your home, turn off your gas and call the hotline.  Be sure that the snow is shoveled out around the well where the gas line goes into your home.

The Southwest Incident Management Team has been brought in to assist the City of Durango and La Plata County with the response.  Additional information will be provided as it becomes available and will be posted to the SWIM Team website at and to the La Plata County website at  Updates are also being posted to FaceBook on the La Plata County Government page, the Southwest Incident Management Page and the City of Durango page.  Radio and Television stations will be given emergency alert messages.

Follow twitter updates @lpc_oem or @swimtco.  To receive Twitter feeds without having to sign up for twitter, text “FOLLOW LPC_OEM” to 40404 on your cell phone and you will receive all updates posted by text message.

SW Colorado Emergency Communications Exercise Today

By: Dan Bender, La Plata County Sheriff’s Office

The Southwest Regional Communications Committee in collaboration with regional Homeland Security emergency response agencies will be conducting a multi-jurisdictional exercise on Tuesday, February 18th, 2014.  The actual exercise will be from 9:00AM until 11:00AM. Physical set up for the La Plata County portion of the exercise will take place from about 8:00AM until 9:00AM at the Durango Fire Rescue station in Bodo Industrial Park at 142 Sheppard Drive in Durango.

The exercise is done periodically ( usually annually) to test radio and other forms of communication that would be used during a response to a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional emergency or  planned event.   This will be a test of the Southwest Region TACTICAL INTEROPERABLE COMMUNICATIONS (TIC) PLAN.  The Southwest Region, as it pertains to the Colorado Division of Emergency Management, consists of the counties of  San Juan, Montezuma, Archuleta, Delores, and La Plata as well as the Southern Ute and the Ute Mountain Ute tribes.

In La Plata County, mobile communications and command vehicles from Durango Fire Rescue; Durango Police Dept and La Plata County Sheriff’s Office will be set up next to the Durango Fire Rescue station in Bodo Industrial Park.  Once the exercise begins, dozens of area agencies representing Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS, Schools, Public Health, Animal Control, Offices of Emergency Management, Public Works, Transportation, and other support entities will test their ability to communicate with others within their organizations, and between the other agencies and groups using everything from ground phones and cell phones to internet and radios on a variety of frequencies on 800MHZ, VHF, and HAM systems.

The objective of the exercise is to improve the capability and efficiency of area public service communications in the event of an emergency and to have tested back-up systems in place in the event primary communications systems are out of service.  During last year’s exercise, over 6,000 responders communicated over the various systems in a 2 hour period, simulating high volume use during an emergency.

Montezuma County Offers Free TDAP Vaccine

Durango, CO: The Montezuma County Public Health Department is offering free Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (TDAP) vaccination shot on November 6th from 2-4pm at the Montezuma County Annex, 103 Chestnut Street in Cortez.  Supplies are limited to the first 180 walk-ins, no appointment is necessary.

The TDAP vaccine is required for all children going into 6th grade. A tetanus shot is suggested for all adults every 10 years. A pertussis shot is suggested for pregnant women and anyone who is around very young children.

The Southwest Incident Management Team (SWIMT), a multi-agency team, will join this event to test the ability of a point of distribution with the Montezuma County Health Department.  SWIMT will work with staff and volunteers in setting up, securing the area, responding to the special needs of patients, operations, and completing a point of distribution site. To maintain skills, the team performs exercises at least four times a year with simulations and other complex training. More than 12 team members from the area recently returned from assisting the City of Evans during the floods.

SWIMT is the fifth Type III incident management team certified by the State of Colorado. The team exists as a resource to the region and can be requested if an agency’s resources are overwhelmed by an incident.  Depending on the incident’s needs, the full team may be utilized, or just a specialty area of the team.  The team or even a member or two can assist or advise the jurisdiction with incident management, organization, and available support.