Floods, earthquakes, severe storms, landslides, hazardous material spills, and wildfires are just a few examples of emergencies in Cache County that Emergency Management has played an active roll in. But what does Emergency Management do when there are no emergencies? Emergency Management coordinates a number of ongoing programs such as homeland security, domestic preparedness, flood mitigation, emergency alert system, and interagency coordination that make Cache Valley a safer, better place to work and live.
Will Lusk is the Emergency Manager for Cache County. His responsibility includes emergency preparedness education to help families prepare to be self-reliant during a disaster. He also oversees the day-to-day operation of the Emergency Operations Center (E.O.C.). Its purpose is to provide the physical location and the equipment necessary for those persons responsible for managing a countywide emergency or disaster.
To contact the Cache County Emergency Manager click here.
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates citizens about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.
Currently there are CERT programs in North Logan, Hyrum, and Smithfield. If you are interested in receiving CERT training you are encouraged to contact the CERT program manager in the community closest to you.
Because Cache County is very rural in nature, individuals such as yourself will likely be the first on scene for a major or large scale disaster. Getting CERT trained may just be the deciding factor on how well you and your neighbors survive the disaster. Contact your closest CERT program manager and begin your training today.
A large earthquake occurs on the central segments of the Wasatch fault on average every 350 years. This means there is a 25% chance of having a 7.00-7.5 earthquake within the next 100 years.
How to Prepare for an Earthquake
- Store a minimum of 72 hours worth of food and water. Organize a 72 hour kit.
- Secure fixtures such as lights, cabinets, bookcases, and top heavy objects to resist moving, coming loose, or falling during the shaking. Place heavy objects on lower shelves and securely fasten shelves to walls.
- Hang heavy pictures and mirrors away from beds. Store bottled goods, glass, vases, china, and other breakables in low or closed cabinets and use non-skid padded matting, hold-fast putty, or Velcro whenever possible.
- Bolt down or provide strong support for water heaters and other appliances.
- Consider earthquake insurance.
- Check the electrical wiring and connections to gas appliances. Defective electrical wiring, leaking gas, or inflexible connections are very dangerous in the event of an earthquake.
- Develop a family plan which addresses what to do if the earthquake occurs while family members are at home, school, or work. This plan should include a possible central meeting location for family members after the earthquake, and an out-of-area contact person so other family members can find out information concerning their loved ones. (It is usually easier to call out of a disaster area then to call into one.)
- Locate master switch and shut-off valves for all utilities. Teach all responsible family members how to turn them off.
What to do during an Earthquake
- Stay calm. Having a plan will help you remain calm.
- Stay put. Whether inside or out, STAY THERE.
- Take Cover. If indoors, take cover under a desk, table, or bench, stand in a supported doorway, or along an inside wall or corner. Stay away from windows, bookcases, china cabinets, mirrors, and fireplaces until the shaking stops. If no protection is available, drop to the floor and cover your head with your hands. Never try to restrain a pet during the shaking. If outside, stand away from buildings, trees, and telephone and electric lines. If in an office building, stay next to a pillar or support column, or under a heavy table or desk. If in a crowded public place, never run for the door - a lot of people will try to do that.
- If in a car, pull over to the side of the road as quickly as possible and stop. Never stop on top of or underneath a bridge or under power lines. Stay in your car until the earthquake is over. When you drive on, watch for hazards created by the earthquake such as fallen objects, downed electrical lines, or broken roadways.
- Do not use elevators. Realize the electricity may go out and alarm and sprinkler systems may turn on.
- If you are trapped in an area: Use a flashlight if you have one - don’t use matches or lighters in case of gas leaks. Try to stay still so you won’t kick up dust. Cover your mouth with a piece of clothing. Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can hear you - shout only as a last resort.
What to do After an Earthquake
- Check for injuries. Provide first aid.
- Check for safety - gas, water, sewage breaks; check for downed electrical lines; turn off interrupted utilities as necessary; check for building damage and potential safety problems during aftershocks such as cracks around chimney and foundation; check for fires.
- Clean up dangerous spills.
- Wear shoes.
- Tune radio to an emergency station (610 am KVNU) and listen for instructions from public safety agencies.
- Report damages or needs to your neighborhood coordinator.
- Do not touch downed power lines or broken appliances.
In the event of a disaster, are you and your family ready? Do you have the items necessary to provide for yourselves without any outside help? Do you have a family emergency plan? Being prepared isn’t a large job but it is a very important one. After watching several national disasters unfold in the media in recent years, it should be easy for us to realize that we need to be prepared.
The foundation of emergency preparedness is self-sufficiency. If each of us takes the responsibility of preparing ourselves and our families for a disaster, it will significantly increase our community’s ability to survive and recover from the incident. Your family should have and be familiar with a family emergency plan. Prepare a disaster supply (72 hour) kit and educate your family on what you are going to do and where you are going to meet in the event of a disaster. Conducting practice drills will insure that all family members are comfortable with implementing your family emergency plan.
In order for emergency responders to work effectively, they must first know that their families are safe. In an effort to prepare employees for natural or man-made disasters, the Sheriff’s Office has developed the Cache County Sheriff's Office Family Emergency Guide. This guide was originally developed for Sheriff’s Office employees; however, we felt that because of its value it should be made available to the public. The guide has instruction on how to prepare a family emergency plan, build a 72 hour kit, and prepare a financial contingency plan. Other issues addressed in the guide include the local Emergency Alert System radio station (610 AM), shelter-in-place procedure, and evacuation information. The guide also outlines ways to prepare for several possible disaster situations that may occur in our valley.
Cache County Sheriff's Office Family Emergency Guide
Below are links to several other very educational emergency preparedness websites:
Additional emergency preparedness information and reference material can be obtained by contacting the Cache County Sheriff's Office Emergency Management Coordinator at 755-1000. Email our Emergency Manager.
Before the Flood
- Know the elevation of your property in relation to flood plains, streams, and other waterways. Determine the danger to your property.
- If you've experienced flooding in the past expect it again unless you have taken appropriate measures to mitigate the problem. What did you do in the past that helped? Do it again, before it floods! What else can you do? Do it now! Do you have what you may need? Get it! Be Prepared!
- Make sure downspouts carry water several feet from your house to a well-drained area. - About 2,500 gallons of water will come from a 1,000 square foot roof with one foot of snow depth across the roof. This much water may cause problems if allowed to drain next to the house.
- Move snow on the ground away from the house. Water from the snow may cause a wet basement if allowed to run down along the basement wall. If the ground is sloped 1 inch per foot near the house, moving the snow just 3-5 feet from thouse will reduce problems.
- Remove snow from around rural yards to minimize soft, wet soil conditions. Remember that a 20-foot diameter x 10 foot high pile of snow could contain as much as about 2,600 gallons of water. Move the snow to well-drained areas.
- Ensure that storm drains, rain gutters, irrigation ditches, and culvert pipes are free of debris and ready to accommodate high flows of water.
- Open basement windows to equalize water pressure on foundations and walls.
- Consider flood insurance if you live by a river, have experienced repeated flooding, or your residence is in a high water-table area.
- Report concerns, such as trees in the river, clogged culverts, debris in the canal, etc. that are out of your control or responsibility early before the flooding begins.
- Examine and clean your sump pump if you have one. Test the pump by pouring water into the pit. Make sure the discharge hose carries the water several feet away from the house to a well-drained area. Also, make sure the pipe is on sloped ground so it drains to prevent it from freezing and clogging up with ice. Install a drainfield if possible for the sump pump to pump to.
- Notify neighbors when your sump pump kicks on and/or when you notice the water rising.
- Store food, water, and critical medical supplies (prescriptions, etc.). Store these items in an area of the house that is high enough to stay out of the flood waters.
- Move furniture and essential items to higher elevation if time permits.
- Have a portable radio and flashlights with extra batteries.
- Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family and make advance plans of what to do and where to go.
- Keep your car filled with gas in case you have to evacuate. Have a 72 hour kit in the car or easily accessible for a quick evacuation.
- Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be the "family contact" in case your family is separated during a flood or other emergency. Make sure everyone in your family knows the name, address, and phone number of this contact person.
During the Flood
- Listen to local radio or TV for weather information.
- Once you're secure, check on your neighbors. Volunteer to assist where needed.
- If you are asked to evacuate, shut off main power switch, main gas valve, and water valve. Follow local evacuation plan and routes.
- Do Not attempt to drive over a flooded road, as it may be washed out. While you are on the road, watch for possible flooding at bridges, dips, and low areas. Swiftly moving water of only one foot deep can easily move a car off the road to deeper flood areas.
- Watch out for damaged roads, slides, and fallen electrical wires.
- Drive slowly in water; use low gear.
- If you are driving and your vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground.
- Do Not attempt to cross a stream on foot where water is above your knees.
- Register at your designated Evacuation Center and remain there until informed to leave.
After the Flood
- Remain away from evacuated area until public health officials and the building inspector have given approval.
- Check for structural damage before re-entering.
- Make sure electricity is off; watch for electrical wires. Leave electricity off until the area is dry and wiring has been inspected.
- Do Not use an open flame as a light source due to possible gas leaks. Use flashlights and beware of dangerous sparks.
- Do not use food that has been contaminated by flood water.
- Do not drink tap water until health officials can certify its safety. Flooding can cause contamination of the water supplies. Contaminated water can contain micro-organisms that can cause diseases. Purify your water if you think it might be contaminated before drinking, cooking, washing dishes, or bathing.(boil 3-5 minutes)
Floods, What you should know when living in Utah booklet
Landslides occur in all U.S. states and territories. In a landslide, masses of rock, earth, or debris move down a slope. Landslides may be small or large, slow or rapid. They are activated by storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, fires, and human modification of land.
Debris and mud 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 at avalanche speeds. They also can travel several miles from their source, growing in size as they pick up trees, boulders, cars, and other materials.
Landslide problems can be caused by land mismanagement, particularly in mountain, canyon, and coastal regions. Land-use zoning, professional inspections, and proper design can minimize many landslide, mudflow, and debris flow problems.
What To Do Before a Landslide or Debris Flow
The following are steps you can take to protect yourself from the effects of a landslide or debris flow:
- Do not build near steep slopes, close to mountain edges, near drainage ways, or natural erosion valleys.
- Get a ground assessment of your property.
- Consult an appropriate professional expert for advice on corrective measures.
- Minimize home hazards by having flexible pipe fittings installed to avoid gas or water leaks, as flexible fittings are more resistant to breakage (only the gas company or professionals should install gas fittings).
Recognize Landslide Warning Signs
- Changes occur in your landscape such as patterns of storm-water drainage on slopes (especially the places where runoff water converges), land movement, small slides, flows, 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, walks, or stairs begin pulling away from the building.
- Slowly developing, widening cracks appear on the ground or on paved areas such as streets or driveways.
- 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.
- A faint rumbling sound that increases in volume is noticeable as the landslide nears.
- The ground slopes downward in one direction and may begin shifting in that direction under your feet.
- Unusual sounds, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together, might indicate moving debris.
- Collapsed pavement, mud, fallen rocks, and other indications of possible debris flow can be seen when driving (embankments along roadsides are particularly susceptible to landslides).
During a Landslide or Debris Flow
The following are guidelines for what you should do if a landslide or debris flow occurs:
- Move away from the path of a landslide or debris flow as quickly as possible.
- Curl into a tight ball and protect your head if escape is not possible.
After a Landslide or Debris Flow
The following are guidelines for the period following a landslide:
- Stay away from the slide area. There may be danger of additional slides.
- Check for injured and trapped persons near the slide, without entering the direct slide area. Direct rescuers to their locations.
- Watch for associated dangers such as broken electrical, water, gas, and sewage lines and damaged roadways and railways.
- Replant damaged ground as soon as possible since erosion caused by loss of ground cover can lead to flash flooding and additional landslides in the near future.
- Seek advice from a geotechnical expert for evaluating landslide hazards or designing corrective techniques to reduce landslide risk.