“Extremely critical” fire danger due to high winds, a list of precautions

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COLORADO SPRINGS– The Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management is monitoring the high-impact weather conditions the FOX21 Storm Team is forecasting to move through on Wednesday, Dec. 15.

“Very strong and potentially damaging winds are likely,” says Robert Hahn, FOX21 Storm Team meteorologist. “West winds gusting to 60 to 80 m.p.h. are possible with the potential for a few gusts beyond that.”

Hahn says the National Weather Service agrees. The local Pueblo forecast office has issued a High Wind Warning from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and a Red Flag Warning from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for El Paso County, including Colorado Springs.

Residents should take the following precautions:

  • Secure outdoor furniture and outdoor holiday decorations.
  • Seek shelter indoors during the high wind event and avoid travel if possible.
  • Avoid downed trees and powers lines. Never attempt to remove lines yourself.
  • Fire will spread very quickly during this event, avoid any activities that could cause fire.
  • Road closures are possible throughout the state, if you must travel, check COTrip.org for up-to-date road closures from CDOT.
  • Make sure you are prepared for the possibility of a power outage. This includes having flashlights ready with working batteries. Do not use ovens, stoves or camping stoves for heat to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Monitor elected outages using Springs Utilities online outage map.

Avoid travel, if possible

High wind out of the west makes travel hazardous, especially for high profile vehicles on the north/south corridors due to high wind gusts and the potential for debris.

Stay indoors and avoid travel. If you must travel, maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel and be prepared for sudden shifts in wind speed or direction and be vigilant of flying debris.

Traffic intersections may be without power. Motorists should treat all darkened intersections as a four-way stop.

Only call 9-1-1 for a life-threatening emergency.

Power lines or power outages

Be on the lookout for fallen power lines or trees that have come into contact with a power line. Downed power lines likely carry an electric current strong enough to cause serious injury or possibly death. If you see this, stay away from the line and/or tree, and call your utility company or 9-1-1. 

The following are safety tips for downed power lines:

  • If you see a downed power line, move away from the line, and avoid touching it.
  • The proper way to move away from the line is to shuffle with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times. This will minimize the potential for a strong electric shock. Electricity wants to move from a high voltage zone to a low voltage one—and it could do that through your body.
  • If you see someone who is in direct or indirect contact with the downed line, do not touch the person. You could become the next victim. Call 911 instead.
  • Do not attempt to move a downed power line or anything in contact with the line by using another object such as a broom or stick. Even normally non-conductive materials like wood or cloth, if slightly wet, can conduct electricity and electrocute you.
  • Be careful not to put your feet near water where a downed power line is located.
  • Do not drive over downed lines.
  • If you are in a vehicle that is in contact with a downed line, stay in the vehicle. Honk your horn for help and tell others to stay away from your vehicle.

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