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Q: How can I get emergency information?
DO NOT call 9-1-1 for information.

For information about bad weather or other emergencies in your area, first turn on your radio or television for more information and instructions. Be sure to have at least one radio with a battery back-up in case of electrical failure. You can also get emergency updates online at www.fcgov.com, the City’s Facebook page and Twitter feed will also have updates as information becomes available. 

You can also register for emergency alerts in your area. When you register, you can receive emergency notifications on your cell phone, business phone, via text message, and e-mail in addition to receiving phone calls on your traditional home phone.

The National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts and issues weather watches and warnings. During an emergency, the NWS issues reports to keep you informed about current weather conditions as well as forecasts of future weather. These reports are read regularly on commercial radio and television stations. Local stations reporting weather include KCOL (1410 AM) News/Talk Radio and Tri-102 (102.5 FM).

The best way to receive warnings from the National Weather Service is with a NOAA Weather Radio. These devices may be purchased inexpensively at many local electronics and appliance stores. They broadcast continuous weather reports from the NWS. These specialized radios also have a warning alert feature. When you place the radio in the warning alert mode, it discontinues broadcasting routine weather information and remains silent until a weather warning is issued in your area. When that happens, the radio emits an alarm tone and broadcasts the warning information. This has proven to be a valuable feature and has saved many lives nationwide, and in particular, areas such as tornado alley, by alerting sleeping people to imminent dangerous weather conditions. The result is that people have the maximum possible lead time to act before the severe weather strikes.

Q: What do the weather reports mean?


  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch: The weather conditions are such that a severe thunderstorm (damaging winds 58 mph or more, or hail ¾-inch in diameter or greater) is likely to develop.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning: A severe thunderstorm has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.
  • Winter Travel Advisory: Ice and snow are expected to hinder travel, but not seriously enough to require warnings.
  • Winter Storm Watch: Indicates there is a threat of severe winter weather in a particular area.
  • Winter Storm Warning: Heavy snow (expected snowfall of 4 inches or more in a 12-hour period, or 6 inches or more in a 24-hour period), sleet, or freezing rain are forecast to occur separately or in combination.
  • Blizzard Warning: An advisory when considerable snow and winds of 35 mph or more are expected.
  • Severe Blizzard Warning: An advisory issued when very heavy snowfall is expected, with winds of at least 45 mph and temperatures of 10 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  • Tornado Watch: An advisory indicating that tornadoes may occur in certain areas. Watches specify a time period and an area where tornadoes are possible.
  • Tornado Warning: An advisory when a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar. Warnings describe the area that could be affected. If a warning is issued and you are in the warning area, take cover immediately.
  • Flood or Flash Flood Watch: An advisory indicating that heavy rains occurring or expected to occur may soon cause floods or flash flooding in certain areas.
  • Flood or Flash Flood Warning: An advisory indicating that flash flooding is occurring or imminent on certain streams or designated areas, and immediate action should be taken by those threatened.
  • Urban and Small Stream Advisory: Flooding of small streams, streets, and low-lying areas, such as railroad underpasses and urban storm drains is occurring.

Q: When should I call 9-1-1?
Call 9-1-1- for help when you have an emergency. But remember, 9-1-1 is reserved for true emergencies. You should use it to report a fire, to stop a crime, or to save a life. In a disaster, many people will need help and it is critically important to keep available phone lines open for those with true emergencies.

If you dial 9-1-1 by mistake DO NOT hang up. When the operator answers, briefly tell him or her that you dialed the number by mistake. Then wait for the operator to terminate the conversation before you hang up. The police may still respond in person to make certain all is fine. But they must always respond in person to a 9-1-1 hang-up call.

Q: Will the city bring me sandbags?
 During an emergency, sandbags will not be provided by the City. If you plan to sandbag, you should be prepared with your own supplies.

Sandbagging can be very expensive, time consuming, and it is not the most effective or dependable way to protect a house from flooding. When a flood is likely, people usually want to sandbag because they don't know what else to do. In most cases, you would be better off using the available time before a flood to take other flood-proofing measures, such as moving valuable property to higher locations.

If used, sandbags should only be considered a small part or last resort in an overall flood plan. You will need to buy sandbags before a flood to be sure you will have them on hand when you need them. Get burlap or plastic sandbags. Other kinds of bags simply won't hold up. Sand and plastic sheeting must also be stockpiled. Sandbagging can be very time consuming. It takes 2 people about an hour to fill and place 100 sandbags, giving you a wall only a foot high and 20 feet long. If you skimp on the bags, you risk putting up a wall that will be knocked over.

Q: What happens after the emergency?
Depending on the size and scale of an event, private organizations, such as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and local church groups will be on the scene during or immediately after a disaster. These groups help with things that people need right away, such as new clothing, groceries, shelter, medical aid and counseling.

Some private organizations can help you restore your house after a disaster. They may offer supplies or even volunteers to help you clean up and rebuild. Their services are usually provided free of charge regardless of a person's eligibility for government aid. The American Red Cross provides emergency assistance to people affected by disasters, whether or not the affected area has been declared a disaster area by the Governor or the President. All Red Cross disaster assistance is free and is provided as a gift of the American people. The Red Cross does not receive funding from the government to provide assistance.

The American Red Cross can help by providing you with a voucher to purchase new clothing, groceries, essential medications, rent, bedding, essential furnishings, and other items to meet emergency needs. The Red Cross can also provide you with a cleanup kit: mop, broom, bucket, and cleaning supplies.

More information is available from the Centennial Chapter of the American Red Cross located at 120 Saturn Dr., Fort Collins. Their phone number is (970) 226-5728.