COLORADO, USA — Wildfires are blazing across many parts of Colorado and thousands are being forced to evacuate.
Below is a list of information for evacuees, including how to sign up for emergency alerts, what steps to take if you have to evacuate and more.
> Video above: East Troublesome Fire time lapse.
Sign up for emergency alerts
Many counties utilize the CodeRED Cellular Emergency Notification System to provide emergency alerts regarding:
- Drinking-water contamination
- Evacuation notices
- Hazardous materials spills/leaks
- Missing persons
This system allows ultra-high-speed cellular phone or text messaging to inform registered participants during an emergency or disaster affecting Grand County.
Please, do not enter landline phones in this system (even in "alternate phone"). This system will only be used for emergency purposes.
CodeRED also offers a free app, which you can download to your Apple or Android device.
What to do when you have to evacuate
When you have to evacuate, experts recommend you complete as many of the following preparations as possible, but only if there is enough time to do so without jeopardizing your life. Evacuate as soon as you are told to, or if you feel unsafe.
The Town of Lyons shared a list of steps to take:
- Wear fire-resistant clothing and protective, sturdy gear, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants and something to protect your face.
- Close all windows, doors (inside and out) and skylights. Do not lock them.
- Remove drapes and curtains made from light material, such as cotton, lace or nylon. Close heavy blinds and drapes and windows.
- Move overstuffed furniture and lightweight flammable materials into the center of the house, away from doors and windows.
- Turn on a light in each room, as well as outside lights. This helps firefighters see your house through smoke.
- Fill tubs, sinks and containers with water.
- Remove combustible materials like patio furniture from decks and around structure — move inside if possible, or at least 30 feet away from your home.
- Place grill propane tanks in center of garage.
- Close or cover outside vents and shutters.
- Position garden hoses so they reach the entire house. Leave the hoses charged, but off.
- Place large, full water containers around the house. Soak burlap sacks, small rugs or large rags in the containers.
- Put an aluminum ladder against the roof of the house on the opposite side of the approaching wildfire, and a hose nearby, if possible.
- Place portable pumps near available water supplies (pools, hot tubs, etc.)
- Shut off the gas at the outside meter or the propane tank.
- If you have vehicles you can't take with you, either park them in the garage, facing out, or park them away from the structures. Don't block the driveway, and leave the keys in the ignition or on the seat. Close windows, but don't lock the doors.
- Disconnect the automatic garage door opener. Close the garage door, but leave it unlocked.
- Open and secure all fence gates.
Insurance resources for Coloradans impacted by wildfires
The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies shared insurance advice for Coloradans impacted by the historic wildfires:
- New COVID-19 challenges may impact evacuation shelters, lodging availability and claims handling. First and foremost, if you are ordered to evacuate, you need to leave your residence immediately. Listen to orders from local authorities.
- Contact your insurance agent or company immediately to let them know where you are staying and to help you with coverage or claims questions. They can also help assist you with lodging options.
- Most insurance policies cover additional living expenses if you are under a mandatory evacuation and are unable to live in your house or apartment because of a fire or other covered peril. Most policies will reimburse you the difference between your additional living expenses and your normal living expenses, but policies have set limits on the amount they will pay and may be subject to a deductible. Additional living expenses may also provide you with some out-of-pocket money while forced out of your home. Check with your insurance professional about what coverage you have and keep receipts for expenses that may be reimbursed if you file a claim.
- If you are on pre-evacuation alert, it is critical to have an evacuation plan that includes identifying available lodging options such as family or friends, local hotels, shelter locations, insurance assistance with lodging, and pet shelters.
- Take photos or videos of personal possessions, particularly antiques, artwork or custom / expensive items. Or if you have time, make a more complete home inventory that lists, or has pictures or videos of, the contents of your home or apartment. It's easy to get overwhelmed, but most insurance companies now have apps to help simplify the process. You can add digital photos and scan in receipts, along with your room-by room online inventory. But only do these things if you have plenty of time -- put safety FIRST.
The agency also shared these three reminders for residents who may have already suffered some kind of loss due to a wildfire:
- Know your policy - If you don't have a copy of your policy, contact your agent or company and request it.
- Keep your receipts - If you are evacuated or displaced for a period of time, be sure to keep copies of all restaurant, hotel and other living expenses incurred because you cannot go home.
- Contact the DOI with concerns and questions – While claims need to be filed with the insurance companies, the DOI can assist consumers with questions about insurance and the claims process. Call the Division at 303-894-7490 or 800-930-3745 (outside of the Denver metro area) or email us - DORA_Insurance@state.co.us.
Red Cross assistance
The Red Cross of Colorado is currently providing lodging, food, medical, mental health support and other emergency needs for individuals who have been impacted by the Colorado wildfires.
If you are an evacuee or someone who has been impacted by the wildfires and needs assistance, call 1-800-417-0495. To sign up to volunteer, email Joshua.Stewart@redcross.org.
What to do with your animals during evacuations
CalWood Fire: Pets can be taken to the Boulder Valley Humane Society at 2323 55th St. in Boulder or the Longmont Humane Society at 9595 Nelson Rd. in Longmont.
Livestock, including horses, cows, sheep, chickens and pigs, can be sheltered at the Boulder County Fairgrounds at 9595 Nelson Road in Longmont. If it fills up, people with animals may want to go to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds at 15200 W. 6th Ave. in Golden.
Anyone who wants to make a donation or volunteer can do so at this link.
Cameron Peak Fire: A small animal shelter is available via the Larimer Humane Society by calling 970-226-3647 ext. 7. Companion animals and barnyard animals up to the size of sheep/goats can stay at the facility.
A large animal shelter or evacuation assistance is available via the LCSO Posse by calling 970-498-5359.
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