Within Cass County we utilize the CodeRED system to help alert our citizens during emergency events. We strongly encourage all our citizens and businesses to sign up for this free service so they can receive alerts through their phones and/or email if they desire. We encourage you to sign up here.
CodeRED gives the City and County the ability to deliver pre-recorded emergency notifications/informative messages to targeted areas or the entire City. The system is geographically based so it is critical to input accurate information such as addresses and phone numbers. The information is only used for emergency notification purposes. If you have questions, please feel free to contact the City of West Fargo Emergency Preparedness office.
Severe Summer Weather
During the early spring and summer months, severe summer weather can occur. This would include damaging winds, lightning, extreme heat, and significant rainfall or hail events. Each of these have direct hazards associated with them that will impact life safety or property and infrastructure. The primary event may cause secondary hazards such as loss of electricity and damage to utilities which will indirectly impact individuals within West Fargo. It is important to be prepared by planning, assembling kits, and being aware.
West Fargo’s outdoor warning sirens are located throughout the city to adequately cover all outdoor areas. The sirens are intended to warn citizens of imminent threats such as tornadoes or chemical releases. They warn people who are outside to seek indoor shelter. The sirens are not intended to be heard by or adequately warn people who are indoors. People are urged to obtain weather radios as an indoor warning device, use apps on their phones, and pay attention to television and local radio stations for up to date weather or incident information. Weather radios can be purchased from most stores that sell electronic goods.
The City of Wet Fargo test the sirens daily at noon. The test allows the city to detect any faults and errors with the sirens and system. The Red River Regional Dispatch Center tests the activation of the system the first Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m.
In the case of an incident, local first responders may initiate the need to sound the sirens. Our local Red River Regional Dispatch Center will activate the sirens based on confirmation from weather spotters in the local area or through confirmation from the National Weather Service.
When the sirens are activated you should immediately take shelter indoors and listen to your local radio station, a weather radio, or local television stations for guidance and instructions.
Severe Winter Weather
North Dakota is no stranger to winter weather. At times it will become severe and will consequently impact our community. Severe winter weather such as blizzards and heavy snowfall can strand motorist, impact utility services, and decrease public safety. It is important to stay aware of impending weather and prepare accordingly. Adequate stores of food, water, and alternate sources of heat will increase your ability to weather those winter incidents.
Warnings vs. Watches
During severe weather events there will either be a watch or a warning advised by the National Weather Service. This can occur at any time of the year and will differ in weather types. In general a watch and warning means the following:
- Watch – means that a storm or hazard may be threatening our area but is not imminent.
- Warning – means that a storm or hazard is imminent and will impact a specific area immediately.
- Winter weather warnings indicate that the hazard will impact the area within 24 hours
- Summer weather warnings indicate that the hazard will impact the area immediately, you should seek shelter immediately
Shelter in Place
Sheltering in place is required when a hazard is outdoors and the conditions are unsafe for citizens without the proper protective equipment. You may be advised to shelter in place for tornados, human-caused threats, or chemical spills or biological/radiological hazards. If and when an announcement to shelter in place is given, you should do the following:
- For natural hazards, seek shelter in an interior room with no windows or in the basement with a solid enclosure above and around you.
- For hazards that are chemical, radiological, or biological in nature outside of your home or office, we are less concerned with structural integrity, but rather how very small particles can enter it.
- In these cases you should stay indoors. Don’t go outside for any reason. Close all open doors and windows. Turn off your furnace, air conditioner, or ventilation system and find a room or area without windows and outside vents. Depending on the type of incident occurring outside, you may need to seal doors and windows with plastic and tape.
- For specific actions based on specific types of incidents, review the following guidance from the Red Cross.
As the City focuses on keeping the public safe during incidents, the need to evacuate areas of town may occur. At any time, the fire or police department may determine that a hazard is too dangerous to have the public remain in the area. They will initiate an evacuation order or advisory. Evacuation orders are given in order to have the safe movement of people out of harm’s way.
When announcements are made, please follow them exactly to reduce confusion and to eliminate redirecting resources. Every precaution will be taken to secure the areas that are evacuated. Once the area is stabilized you may be allowed to return to your home. In this circumstance, you should have verification of residency such as a driver’s license with your current address or a utility bill.
During incidents you should pay attention to local media and officials for accurate information and advisories about a potential evacuation. North Dakota Department of Emergency Services has a registry and provides a process and awareness for first responders specifically for theses vulnerable populations. Vulnerable populations include the elderly, persons with disabilities, small children, and those unable to evacuate without assistance. You should contact the ND Department of Emergency Services to register yourself or others you may feel need special assistance during evacuations. This allows emergency services to better serve these populations during disasters.
Registration in the NDSNR database is not a guarantee emergency services will be provided to registrants or that registrants will be placed on a priority list for emergency responders. Registration is intended to provide first responders with the information they need to adequately plan for and respond to disasters. Preparedness information will be provided so registrants will be able to help themselves in an emergency.
All the personal information in the database is completely confidential and will not be shared with the public.
Our region frequently experiences some type of flooding, whether it comes from snow melt, heavy thunderstorms, or rising waters in the local rivers and streams. Consequently, the area is familiar with fighting floods and dealing with the aftermath.
Depending on the size of the incident, you may have to evacuate. Please follow the directions from local authorities. In other incidents, the City may need volunteers to assist in sandbagging. Again, local authorities will provide information on how to help and where the needs will be. Below, you will find resources from NDSU Extension as well as from volunteer organizations active in disasters (VOADs). Firstlink is also a resource the City will utilize to help organize volunteers during incidents.
Self-Sufficiency during an Emergency
All citizens should prepare to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. This would include having supplies for food, water, fuels, medication, life safety supplies and important essentials.
During local incidents and possibly due to national disasters, safe drinkable water can be in short supply. It is important to keep a supply of water at your residence to ensure you have a safe supply when or if the water distribution system becomes compromised or disrupted. Humans cannot live without water, thus it is the most important nutrient we consume to support our health. For this reason, it is critical to prepare stores of water for emergencies.
The amount of water needed per person is 1 gallon per day. The water should be in plastic bottles that are tightly sealed. These bottles should be stored in a cool, dark area and rotated out and replaced with new water every six months. A small amount of unscented bleach should also be kept in case of boil orders and when purifying the water is required.
When concerns for safe water are announced by local authorities, you can boil your water for 10 minutes at a rapid boil. Make sure you let it cool before consuming. You can also add 8 drops of unscented bleach per gallon of water and shake it up well. Let the water then stand for 30 minutes before using. There will be an odor of chlorine, which is normal. Both of these methods will make the water safe to drink.
If you’ve used up all your stored water, you can use the remaining water in your hot water heater or your toilet tank. This water should be strained through towels or a clean cloth and then treated with the boiling or bleach method.
Demands on the food supply may increase either through delayed shipments to stores or by the public stocking up, and thus may be in short supply during long incidents. You should have enough food to support your family for at least 72 hours. Like your water supplies, you should rotate your food supplies regularly and monitor expiration dates. Special diets and nutritional needs should also be taken into account.
Here are a few recommendations:
- Store foods that take minimal preparation.
- Keep typical foods consumed in your household, not ones you are not use to eating
- Canned foods with flip top lids, no can opener required
- Dried foods
- Keep a manual can opener and disposable utensils on hand
- Store ready to eat fruit, meat, vegetables, and juices and milk
- Have comfort foods such as candy, potato chips, and cookies
- Have high energy foods such as jelly, peanut butter, and trail mix and granola
It is important to also note that during an incident you may not have access to or supplied with natural gas, electricity or water. Emergency food supplies should be those that you can safely handle and consume without those commonly used preparing/cooking appliances. It may not be possible to store, prepare, or consume frozen foods during an incident. That is why it is recommended to keep non-perishable, ready-to-eat canned or dried foods.
Being prepared for incidents that escalate into emergencies or disasters is important. Preparing a kit, being aware, and making a plan will help you through the event and cope with the outcomes before help can be fully deployed and assist you and your family.
Several types of kits should be prepared. We already mentioned food and water. Equally important to prepare in a kit are clothing, important documents, first aid, special needs, fuel, tools and supplies. This emergency kit worksheet provides more details on what to include in your kit.
Every household member should know where these kits are located and able to access them when required. Always train within your home for fire escapes and reunification processes in case you are separated during emergencies. Most of all, have a plan, build a kit, and stay aware.