ARES

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Robert Wareham, NØESQ

ARRL Colorado Section Emergency Coordinator

ARRL State Government Liaison

ARRL Section Emergency Manager Responsibilities

ARRL State Government Liaison Responsibilities

n0esq@arrl.net

www.coloradoares.org 

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FEMA recognizes the extraordinary effort and accomplishments of our ARES hams in Northern Colorado during the 2013 Floods in their “Lessons Learned” report:

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FEMA Citizen Corps 2014 National Community Preparedness Award Presented to Boulder County ARES (BCARES)

Honorable Mention – Technical Innovation

fema bcares award
This honor was paid to BCARES for their construction and implementation of the Mountain Emergency Radio Network (MERN) that they funded and installed prior to the devastating floods that hit the mountain communities above the City of Boulder. The MERN VHF repeater network was instrumental in saving the lives of a number of individuals during the flood by providing a constant link to communities where communications were non-existent but for ham radio.


BCARES utilized Fast Scan ATV and broadcast their live ATV pictures of air rescue operations from the disaster area to national, state, county and city government agencies around the USA via uStream. During the Disaster Assessment stage, BCARES utilized APRS and broadcast the live location of DAT team vehicles from their remote locations in the mountains via APRS.FI on Google Maps to the Red Cross and Boulder County officials. The gathered location info and mapped results proved very useful throughout the assessment effort to keep DAT teams from covering areas previously surveyed. Above is a copy of the FEMA Award Certificate signed by Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator.

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Boulder County (Colorado) ARES Noted on Sheriff’s Office Facebook Page

The ARES E-Letter for October 15, 2014:

Jack Ciaccia, WMØG, ARRL Colorado Section Manager, informed the ARES E-Letter of two postings of the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office to its Facebook page, reflecting the agency’s value it places on the ARES group’s support:

“Public safety is a cooperative effort that requires planning, training, and thoughtful resource management on many levels. We collaborate with many partner agencies such as fire protection districts, rescue groups, and BCARES [Boulder County ARES] to provide the best in public service for Boulder County. Many partner agencies rely on volunteers willing to devote their resources to training, and event deployment. BCARES is a volunteer organization of licensed amateur radio operators that we can call upon for assistance. For more information on this volunteer organization visit: www.bouldercountyares.org.

“Scott Whitehead, KAØQPT of the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office received a Public Service Communication Commendation from the American Radio Relay League in recognition of his meritorious service in providing aid to an injured hiker July 21, 2014. The award was presented today by Jack Ciaccia, PIO for BCARES and the Colorado Section Manager for the national ARRL organization. Scott heard an incoming dispatch call from a Colorado Springs area Ham operator relaying information on an injured party in a remote location. Scott has been a Ham operator since 1983. He used his knowledge of area radio repeaters to make radio contact with the Ham operator with the injured party and guided rescue workers to their location. Great job Scott!”

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COLORADO ARES Update

August 3, 2014

Hello Colorado ARES Membership:

First, let me congratulate all of us on a completely calm early summer! By this time the past two years we had lost several lives, thousands of woodland acres, and hundreds of homes to wildfire. The humidity and rain are a welcome relief in light of the past two years—so long as the rain is measured and we don’t repeat the experience of last September.

Colorado ARES continues to improve in strength, capability, and reputation. I will be meeting by telephone conference next week with representatives of Region 8 FEMA, together with our Section Liaison Jay Wilson, WØAIR, start plans for implementation in Colorado of the recently inked FEMA/ARRL MoA. We will likely implement a Colorado annex to the national MoA.

This week I sent to Jack Cobb at Colorado DHSEM a draft version of the proposed bill that would create the Auxiliary Communications Unit of the Office of Emergency Management within the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management of the Department of Public Safety. The proposed language would provide ARES members with governmental immunity and Workmen’s Compensation Coverage statewide not only when deployed to disasters, but also, when exercising, participating in drills, or attending classes in preparation for response to disasters. I already have several legislators who have expressed a willingness to co-sponsor the bill. I will keep you informed of the progress so that you can contact your local representatives and senators to support the bill. I also hope to have a draft bill to codify PRB-1 in Colorado, as well as provide further enhancements to the expansion of amateur radio in Colorado, ready in time for the next legislative session as well.

With growth and expanded responsibility come additional opportunities for leadership. I have asked North Central Region Emergency Coordinator Perry Lundquist, W6AUN, to assume the position of Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator for Training and Credentialing. Perry will take a leadership role in developing the Colorado AuxComm training course, and further develop and organize training throughout the Colorado Section. Perry has been an exceptional REC and I anticipate nothing less in his new role.

Of course, Perry’s appointment creates a vacancy in the position of North Central Region EC. Upon Perry’s recommendation, I have asked Randy Reynard, WØRDR, to assume the position of North Central Region EC effective August 1, 2014. Randy has been active in ARES in Douglas and Elbert counties for many years, but most recently exhibited his organizational and leadership skills as the Section Liaison EC to the National Weather Service. With only a few weeks to prepare for the 2013 severe weather season, Randy developed response plans that provided severe weather reporting far beyond the expectations of our served agency. Randy has asked to remain the Section Liaison to NWS while assuming the role of North Central Region EC and I believe that is in the best interest of both Colorado ARES and NWS. Because Randy also leads a VE team that routinely tests on the third Saturday of each month, it will be necessary to change the schedule for the monthly North Central Region EC meeting. ECs within the North Central Region should address their meeting day preferences to Randy at .

I could not be prouder of the work that all of you do on behalf of our state and local communities. We have received national recognition for our responses to both floods and fires over the past two years. Our Section Manager, Jack Ciaccia, will be presenting at the ARRL Rocky Mountain Division Convention in Albuquerque on August 8th on the Colorado ARES response to the floods of last fall. While recognition is great, the satisfaction of assisting our neighbors during times of need is even greater motivation to keep ourselves trained and prepared for the unexpected. Thank you all for your commitment to your local communities, our state, and our nation. I salute you all for your dedication and perseverance.

Robert Wareham

Section Emergency Coordinator

Colorado ARES

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MotoTRBO Used in Boulder Flood 

Doug Sharp, N2AD outlines the capability and the role that amateur radio can play in a public-safety response during this conversation with IWCE‘s Urgent Communications staffer Kimberlee Payton-Jones. During the RCA breakfast on August 5, 2014, at the APCO Convention, Sharp gave a presentation that was entitled “The use of amateur radio and digital technologies during the 2013 Colorado floods.”

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Public Service Events: Those Liability Waivers

“Be sure to pick up your T-shirt and sign your volunteer form before the event.” Any ham who works public service events like marathons and bike rides has probably heard similar words. Part of the event ritual is a meeting, often an early breakfast the morning of the event, where the communications coordinator sits at a table with a pile of shirts and a stack of forms provided by the served organization. As I have witnessed this ritual, I have seen great care shown over whether the shirt is the right size, but the form is signed without so much as a quick read. Most people have a vague understanding that the form includes some kind of waiver or release of the served organization, but what are you really waiving or giving up in exchange for the privilege of helping this entity? Perhaps more importantly, what liabilities are you taking on when you sign the form? The answer varies with the wording of the form and the law of each jurisdiction, but in many cases you are giving up a great deal and in some cases, you may be putting everything you have at risk.

In most instances, people are entitled to damages if they are injured due to the negligence of another person or organization and they are liable for injuries to others if they were negligent in causing those injuries. People or organizations are not liable if they or someone for whom they are legally responsible (like an employee) was not at fault. The pieces of paper we sign before events are contracts that change these rules, sometimes profoundly, and never, in my experience, in favor of the volunteer.

Most every form includes a waiver or release of liability in favor of the event organizer. What if you get hurt? You are probably out of luck, even if you were blameless and the sponsoring organization was negligent. If you incur millions in medical expenses and can never work again, you will have to rely on your own assets and insurance to help you out, because you have given up your rights against the negligent parties and their insurance companies.

Some forms include broad indemnity agreements. I have seen forms that have said that the ham volunteer would be responsible for any claims arising from or related to the participation of the ham in the event, even if the claim arose solely from the negligence of the event organizer. Let’s say you properly set up your portable tower in accordance with all codes and standards. An employee of the event organizer, who has never driven a truck before, loses control of a box truck while driving and texting his girlfriend at the same time and hits your tower, knocking it over onto a bystander and permanently disabling him. The event organizer is sued and has a multi-million dollar judgment rendered against them. If you signed the form, you could get the bill for the judgment, the organization’s costs and their attorneys’ fees. Particularly troubling is that the liability insurance policies many of us have may not cover liabilities assumed by contract, so your insurance company would not help you if you are the victim of such a form.

In some cases, when I have seen language like that early enough, I have been able to discuss it with the event organizer and get the form changed. Usually, this is after I have persisted against the initial “that’s not what we really mean” or “it might say that, but we would never do that” or “I don’t know, we had a lawyer draw it up.” I have also seen hams sign forms with these provisions without a second thought.

What is the answer? Probably the right answer is that in exchange for your volunteer service, the sponsoring organization should ensure that you are covered by their insurance for claims asserted against you. They should do the right thing if you are injured by their fault while in their service. That is probably not going to happen in most cases. What kind of risk any person takes on or what kind of claims one will release in advance is ultimately a personal decision based on your financial resources and personal insurance coverage. You should know what insurance coverage you have in the event you are hurt or in the event you hurt somebody else and how that coverage could be impacted by any forms you sign. Organizers should provide their form well in advance. That way, the hams can get a legal opinion either individually or collectively as to what they are giving up or taking on when they sign it. With this knowledge, volunteers can make an informed decision as to whether they want to sign it, ask for changes, or simply pass on the event.

This article is intended to provide general awareness and is not intended as legal advice for any particular situation. Consult legal counsel of your own choosing to determine what impact signing a particular document might have on you. — Matt Woodruff, KA5YYD, Houston, Texas [Woodruff is a corporate attorney for governmental affairs – ed.]

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Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide

December 11, 2013

Folks –

Just a note to let you know that OEC has released the first edition of the  Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG).  It is available as a PDF on the publicsafetytools.info website here.  No printed copies are planned.

AUXFOG_MANUAL 21 Nov 2013

The AUXFOG is a reference for auxiliary communicators who directly support backup emergency communications for State/local public safety entities or for an amateur radio organization supporting public safety.  It contains information about AuxComm best practices, frequently used radio frequencies, mutual aid channels as well as tips and suggestions about auxiliary emergency communicators integrating into a NIMS ICS environment to support communications for planned events or incidents. It can serve as a reference both for auxiliary emergency communicators and public safety communications professionals.

Dan Hawkins

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Office of Emergency Communications
Region VIII Coordinator – CO, UT, WY, MT, ND, SD
Office: (406) 443-0170 Mobile: (406) 438-3700
daniel.hawkins@hq.dhs.gov

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NEWS RELEASE September 12, 2013 18:30 MDT

COLORADO–Colorado ARES members are actively involved in the response to extreme weather in north central Colorado. Members from local ARES districts in Larimer, Boulder, Denver and Arapahoe Counties have been utilized at Emergency Operations Centers in their respective counties. As the rain continues and mandatory evacuation orders expand, the Red Cross is opening shelters in cities as far away as 30 miles from the flooding. These shelters are being manned by ARES members as well to provide health and safety traffic. ARES members in Jefferson and Douglas/Elbert Counties are providing weather spotting support functions. Field Operations have been hampered by flooded streets and impassable highways. Some ARES members we forced to shelter-in-place while serving as net controls or providing weather information.

Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator Emit Hurdelbrink, WØUAW, coordinated the Section Level response from the State Emergency Operations Center and provided status reports directly state emergency managers who were likewise coordinating the state response in support of local governments. The Colorado Office of Emergency Management is a Section Level served agency of Colorado ARES. Like the recent wild land fires, the flooding crosses multiple local districts, and, at least, three of the 9 state All Hazards Regions. Colorado ARES has developed mutual aid and response plans that allow for immediate coordination of large incidents while assuring local relationships are preserved. Following ICS principals, the incident expands as needed. Local ECs regularly communicate their staffing needs and other conditions so that shortages can be anticipated and planning can be made through multiple operational periods.

Earlier this year the National Weather Service also became a Section Level served agency of Colorado ARES. ARES members act as storm spotters and net controls for the National Weather Service SKYWARN operations. Regular rain measurements and flooding conditions have been relayed to NWS since the start of the severe storm conditions. Once the rain stops, it is anticipated that ARES members will assist with damage assessment.

For More Information:

Robert Wareham, NØESQ
Section Emergency Coordinator
Colorado ARES
303-552-7892 Cell

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BCARES MERN Repeater Installed at Allenspark Fire Station

MERN Link

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Allenspark Fire Station

allenspark install

George Weber, KAØBSA – BCARES AEC on install

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Dave Sharpe, KIØHG – BCARES Repeater Tech

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Gold Hill Fire Station

MERN_repeater

Gold Hill Repeater

Photos by Ueli Hauser (KB9TTI) 

On Saturday, August 17th, a BCARES work party installed a VHF repeater at the Allenspark Fire station (147.030+ (100hz)).  This is the second repeater in the growing Mountain Emergency Radio Network (MERN) which has been under development by Boulder County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (BCARES) over the past two years. This undertaking has been initiated and sponsored by BCARES, it’s participating members and through generous equipment donations by local hams, the United Way, participating mountain residents, the Mountain Mayors, and their Volunteer Fire Departments.  

Along with the Gold Hill Fire Station repeater (146.805- (100hz)), the Allenspark machine is helping to provide reliable amateur radio communications in Boulder County’s Front Range mountain communities.  License classes have been taught by BCARES members and ARRL VE’s to Mountain Area Residents and nearly 50 new hams have been licensed so far. Surplus and repurposed Boulder County old wide band FM hand-held and mobile radios have been deployed to the newly licensed amateurs. The cleaning, repair and reprogramming of these older 

The need for amateur radio communications was dramatically demonstrated in September 2010, when the “Four-mile Fire” rapidly cut phone communications, preventing many mountain community residents from receiving evacuation calls through the Reverse 911 warning system. Furthermore, many parts of these mountainous locales have little or no cell phone coverage. 

The MERN network is planned to continue expanding into the Nederland/Eldora area and eventually all MERN repeaters will be linked.

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Whitepaper on communications from Everbridge

Although it’s a promotional piece, it presents some good information on communications strategies and provides references to some new studies on the extent of disaster impact.

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What is ARES?

ARES is field organization of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the largest amateur radio advocacy and fraternal organization in the United States. Today, at a national level ARES provides the organization and guidance to help amateur radio operators to establish local emergency communications volunteer groups. ARES Emergency Coordinators work with local government agencies such as police, fire, sheriff, search and rescue and offices of emergency management to determine what emergency communications needs may exist and how to best serve the community.

Colorado ARES is divided into 9 All-hazards Regions and 29 Districts; not all regions and districts are active. Each active region and district have an Emergency Coordinator who works to understand the local community’s needs and organizes resources to maintain a level of emergency preparedness and communications readiness.

Although the primary purpose of ARES is to provide emergency communications, ARES members are also routinely asked to provide non-business communications support at public events such as parades, marathons and bike rides.

For more information about ARES, read some of these articles:

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COLORADO AUXCOMM UPDATE

Robert Wareham, Colorado Section Emergency Coordinator, held a meeting for ARES personnel at Colorado Hamcon this last Friday, June 28th.  We discussed how Amateur Radio operators are being asked to operate on more than our ham frequencies in support of their served agencies.  FEMA has termed this “ Auxiliary Communications” and have developed a course.  Our section served agency, Colorado Department of Homeland Security – Emergency Management has adopted this model.  While we have had several people take the FEMA course it is not widely available.  We are working on presenting a Colorado version of the course as there is limited opportunity for folks to attend the FEMA one.  I will provide more information as it is developed.

Using the ICS rule for the span of control, Robert has grouped  the ARES districts into groups that mirror the Colorado All Hazards Regions with a Regional Emergency Coordinator responsible.  Each REC has several districts ECs that they are responsible for.  These RECs report to Robert along with section level served agency liaisons.   A map is on the section’s webpage showing the regions.  You will find a list of assignments on the document that I have included in this email.  Over the last year or so, we have had to come together as a single entity to support large incidents (wildland fires).  Robert uses the example of a large fire department.  Each station (ARES District) is responsible for their own area but on large fires, they come together to work as a coordinated group ( Common policies and procedures).  With this in mind,  a  district renumbering plan was developed.  During the Black Forest fire, Colorado ARES members were issued a DTR radio for wide area coordination.   Using the renumbering plan, DTR tactical call signs were assigned and used.  These are included in the document as well.  We hope that we can facilitate the issuing of DTR radios on a permanent basis or, at least, assure the availability of cache radios when needed.

AuxComm Radio Call Plan 

Robert also mentioned a new Colorado ARES logo for uniforms that is available through PROformance Apparel in Littleton (http://www.proformanceapparel.com/).    You can either supply a shirt or order one through them and they will add the logo.  The logo was developed by Arapahoe ARES and Robert modified it.  I have included a copy of Arapahoe’s design so you get the idea.  The county will be on the bottom.  Any ARES member can order these.

coloarespatchnew

For those who are AuxComm trained, there is a logo for that as well.  The “Colorado AUXCOMM” will be below the patch.

 coauxcommpatchColorado AUXCOMM

The suggested uniform for AUXCOMM is a khaki shirt with blue pants (not jeans).  You will need to request an order form for these from Robert or me.

Emit Hurdelbrink, WØUAW

Colorado Section ARES

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CLICK HERE FOR LATEST COLORADO WILDFIRE REPORTS

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Colorado ARES Supports Emergency Communication in Wildland Fire Response

Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers mustered to support emergency communications after wildland fires broke out in Colorado in June.

“For the second summer in a row the entire state of Colorado seems to be on fire,” said North Central Colorado Region ARES Emergency Coordinator Perry Lundquist, W6AUN. “Currently, there are 16 wildfires burning within Colorado.”

Several Colorado ARES districts activated in the wake of the Royal Gorge and the Black Forest fires June 11. After the Royal Gorge fire started near the famous Royal Gorge Bridge in Canon City, ARES members in Custer, Fremont, Huerfano and Pueblo counties responded, providing communication support for sheltering activities. The fire burned 3218 acres.

Later the same day, the Black Forest Fire erupted close to the Waldo Canyon area in Colorado Springs, where a similar wildfire caused widespread destruction last year. “The Black Forest Fire has now become the most destructive fire in Colorado history,” Lundquist said. It ultimately consumed 14,280 acres and 507 homes and caused two deaths.

During the fire’s peak, eight shelters were opened for both people as well as animals large and small, Lundquist reports. More than 35,000 residents had to evacuate, he said, placing a very heavy burden on the American Red Cross, which immediately requested ARES communication support between its eight various shelters and the Pikes Peak Red Cross headquarters. El Paso County, Douglas County, and Elbert County ARES members responded by providing round-the-clock radio operators for several days.

Lundquist says several Jefferson County ARES members are still working on other fires within the state where their ARES members are assigned individually as National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) certified communication technicians and radio operators. “Colorado Section and Regional ARES leadership have worked closely to support the local ARES districts and to provide ARES mutual aid in the form of communications equipment and ARES-trained manpower resources wherever and whenever needed,” he said.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reported June 28 that the West Fork Complex and East Peak fires “continue to be the main concerns for fire managers in Colorado.” Residents in the vicinity of those fires have been evacuated. — Thanks to Perry Lundquist, W6AUN; Colorado SM Jack Ciaccia, WMØG, and Rick Palm, K1CE

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COLORADO ARES/AUXCOMM REGIONS & DISTRICTS

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ARES-All-Hazards-Regions

COLORADO ARES/AUXCOMM REGIONS & DISTRICTS MAP

(Click on Map for Larger View)

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COLORADO ARES NETS

Colorado ARES HF State Net – the Colorado ARES HF State Net meets each Sunday at 8:00 AM LOCAL on 3810 kHz. The NCS varies week to week and check-ins are taken alphabetically by suffix from all ARES districts. All District Emergency Coordinators (DECs) and Emergency Coordinators (ECs) are encouraged to participate.

Digital HF Net – ARESCO DIGITAL NET 1st & 3rd & 5th Sundays at 0730 Local – 3590 kHz (Mark Tone) frequencies: Primary – 3570 kHz

CW Net – ARESCO Corrosion Control Net: 0730-0759 Local on 2nd & 4th Sundays – frequencies: Primary – 3570 kHz sending at 10 to 15 WPM.

Colorado ARES VHF State Net – The Colorado ARES VHF Net meets each Sunday at 20:00 PM LOCAL on 145.310 (-) and 123 Hz tone in the Denver area.

We thank the Colorado Connection for the use of their Intrastate Repeater System. The NCS varies week to week and check-ins are taken alphabetically by suffix from all ARES districts. All Regional Emergency Coordinators (RECs) District Emergency Coordinators (DECs) and Emergency Coordinators (ECs) are encouraged to participate.

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ColoradoARES now on twitter!

In order to quickly get information out to Colorado ARES members, a twitter account (@ColoradoARES) has been created and will be used to send out information.

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Colorado ARES Points of Contact

Latest update: 09/16/14

Section Emergency Coordinator Robert Wareham, NØESQ
Assistant SEC– Administration Emit Hurdelbrink, WØUAW
Assistant SEC – Training and Credentialing Perry Lundquist, W6AUN
North Central Region Coordinator Randy Reynard, WØRDR
South Central Region Coordinator Rich Russel, ACØUB
Northeast Region Coordinator Rob Strieby, WØFT
South/Southeast Region Coordinator Mike McQueen, NØZSN
San Luis Vally/Southwest Region Coordinator Philip Schechter, WØOJ
West Region Coordinator Robert Barclay, KDØJRK
Northwest Region Coordinator OPEN

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Colorado Section Liaison Appointments:

Dave Cook, KCØMHT                         American Red Cross

Barry Wilson, KAØBBQ                    Salvation Army

Jay Bascombe Wilson, WØAIR      FEMA

Dan Nye, WØNYE                                 CO Dept. of Public Health & Environment

Mark Kelley, WØBG                             LDS Church Communications

Randy Reynard, WØRDR                   NWS/SKYWARN

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Disaster Information

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WEATHER REPORTING

It is important to properly and accurately report the weather conditions you are seeing. If you are unsure about what you are seeing, wait 60 seconds and see if the condition persists. Also, listen to others on the net.

The following reflect normal Severe Weather Criteria.

Severe Weather Reporting

Rain in excess of 2 inches per hour, with 0.50” already having fallen at your location. Heavy rain reports from the field are not needed.

Hail greater than 3/4 inch (penny size) or hail that has become a serious traffic danger.

Damaging Winds of 50 Knots (58mph) or greater measured, and how measured. Estimates without an anemometer will generally be discounted. Winds resulting in damage to houses, or resulting in larger branches breaking or trees down should be reported.

Flash Flooding of streams, creeks, or roads (6” or more of water flowing across a road is considered flash flooding). Minor puddling of water on highways or sheeting of water on highways is not normally flash flooding.

Persistent Wall Clouds, particularly persistent Rotating Wall Clouds

Persistent Funnel Clouds

Tornados

Storm Damage

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Fires Started as a result of lightning

When reporting, give your call and weather spotter number, your location, the direction you are observing the event, and the approximate distance. When giving locations, please name your two closest major cross streets. Give the time that you observed the event. Also, note if the event is still occurring, strengthening, or has dissipated. Net control will ask for confirmation of what you are seeing. Do not give many confirmations of the same event.  Two or three confirmations are adequate. Keep reports short and concise. Also, do not repeat reports heard on the television or scanner. Only report what you are seeing. Also, do not report conditions that do not meet the above criteria. Please note that at times net control will further restrict the criteria beyond what is listed above. Listen to net control and net control’s requests.

Always report on your local R-1, D-3 Weather Spotter Net:[Boulder ~ Broomfield 146.760- 100.0 tone]

The 146.940 Sky Warn Net is where the local net controls report so no unauthorized traffic, please.

You are welcome to listen in to hear what is going on in the region.

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Prepping for Brownouts and Blackouts

The heat is rising across the country. The high demands for electricity to keep cool are increasing the risk of areas experiencing blackouts or brownouts. Brownouts typically occur during heat waves due to heavy equipment coming online, short circuits, or electrical companies decreasing voltage in order to meet the needs of peak time. Blackouts occur when it is a complete power outage and can last from hours to weeks.

It’s important that you take action now and prepare for the next time service interruptions occur in your area. Because the length of a power outage can vary from a few hours to several days, you need to plan to get by without utilities for at least three days. Not sure how to prepare? FEMA is here to help.

Use FEMA’s “Going Off Grid: Utility Outages” activity module to reference simple steps to get prepared for an outage. Some utility outage checklist items include:

· Document important phone numbers and vital power company information

· Locate and label your utility shutoffs

· Follow energy conservation measures to keep the use of electricity as low as possible, which can help power companies avoid imposing rolling blackouts

· Have your disaster kit ready and stocked

The “Going Off Grid: Utility Outages” activity module is part of FEMA’s “Preparedness Activities for Communities Everywhere” tools, which educate individuals about relatively easy steps to take to become prepared for all types of hazards. The tools are designed for anyone to use in coordination with local emergency preparedness partners to help better prepare for emergencies. For additional tips on blackouts visit: http://www.ready.gov/blackouts

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Lightning Strikes – Stay Safe

Thunderstorms are dangerous due to lightning. Although lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States. Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months in the afternoon and evening. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms. Be smart this summer to help reduce your risks. Below are a few tips to start:

· Postpone outdoor activities [and antenna work — ed.] when a storm is being forecasted.

· Unplug electronic equipment before the storms begins.

· Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: The first “30” represents 30 seconds. If the time between when you see the flash and hear the thunder is 30 seconds or less, the lightning is close enough to hit you.

· During a storm, use your NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.

· Avoid contact with any metal – tractors, motorcycles, bicycles, and golf clubs.

· Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower or wash dishes and do not laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.

For more tips and helpful information visit: http://www.ready.gov/thunderstorms-lightning

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