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lightning strike in storm

Staying safe in your home during weather emergencies

by Julie Estlick

Let's face it: weather emergencies often happen at the most inconvenient times. A good dose of preparation can keep you and all of your family members (including pets) safe. And signing up to receive alerts from local authorities at will give you real-time information on sheltering in place or directions on when and where to evacuate.


tornado and housesTornadoes can strike at any time of the year. There are areas in the home that are safer than others to protect against broken glass and flying debris. Make a plan ahead of time so someone can quickly grab flashlights, water, pet supplies, and any other necessities, and everyone can move to safety quickly.

What to do:
  • Get all family members and pets inside immediately.
  • Go to the basement and take cover under something heavy like a table, bed, or workbench.
  • If you don’t have a basement, go into a windowless room in the center of the house.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Cover yourself with a rug for protection against flying glass or debris.
  • Know the difference between a watch (conditions are favorable for a tornado to form) and a warning (a tornado has been spotted in your area and you should take shelter immediately). No areas in Larimer County have tornado sirens, so don’t wait to hear one to act.  
  • Sign up for to receive emergency alerts and updates, or stay tuned to news broadcasts, radio or weather radio for the latest weather information.

 For more info:

Protecting your pets

pets in windowIf you have small pets, always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster.

What to do:
  • Be prepared. Build survival kits for your pet: one kit for sheltering in place, and a lighter one in case you have to evacuate.
    Include: food, water, water bowl, medicine (in a waterproof container), pet first-aid kit, extra collar with ID tag and harness/leash, copies of pet registration and other documents (in a waterproof container AND available electronically),travel bag/crate for each pet, grooming items, sanitation needs, a picture of you and your pet together (in case of separation), familiar items such as favorite toys, treats, bedding.

For more info:

Wildfire Smoke

smoke over Fort CollinsAs we have seen in recent years, smoke and ash from fires burning north of Fort Collins to several states away can trigger health issues for those in Larimer County. According to environmental specialists, if you can see or smell smoke, or if you can’t clearly see a landmark that is more than 5 miles away, you are being impacted.

What to do:
  • Stay indoors as much as possible.
  • Keep windows and doors closed.
  • Protect indoor air quality. Avoid vacuuming, smoking, using gas/propane wood stoves, spraying aerosol products, frying food, or burning candles.
  • Create a clean air room:
    ~ Choose a room, and keep windows and doors closed. Stay cool with fans or air conditioning and set it to recirculate.
    ~ Filter the air with a portable air cleaner in the room, or make your own DIY air purifier using a box fan with a HEPA or MERV 13 furnace filter strapped on to it. Learn how at

For more info:


hailstones in handsRepairing or replacing house roofs and car windows from hail damage is almost a rite of passage in our region. When hailstorms hit, the safest place to be is inside your home or any sturdy building.

What to do:
  • Make sure all family members and pets are indoors (or in some type of protected shelter).
  • Move vehicles into the garage or a sheltered area if possible.
  • Secure hot tub and other outdoor items against strong winds and hail.
  • Close windows, curtains, and blinds. Stay away from windows, skylights, and glass doors.
  • Find a safe area. Move to a basement, cellar, or anywhere not directly below the roof.
  • Be prepared for electrical outages. Have a backup generator, emergency candles and matches, or flashlight
  • Wait until hail has completed melted to walk outside, or be aware of slipping hazards
  • Listen to weather alerts. Follow all weather watch alerts and warnings. Have a battery-powered radio or a hand-crank National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio for updates.

For more info: