Emergency Preparedness and Response

El Paso County Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPCPH EPR) is responsible for preparing for and responding to emergency situations. EPR develops plans for emergency responses, provides training, and collaborates with governmental partners, nonprofit organizations, and private sectors. It works to ensure preparedness for public health emergencies and disasters that may affect the county. These activities aim to strengthen the county’s capacity to respond to, mitigate, and recover from emergencies while also developing strategies to lessen the impact of future disasters.

The department mobilizes public health responders and subject matter experts to address potential emergencies that could impact public health. Public health emergencies can be infectious disease outbreaks, pandemics, or bioterrorism. EPR also assists with public health emergency aspects of flooding, severe weather, fires, tornadoes, earthquakes, power outages, hazardous materials, water or soil contamination, air pollution, and numerous other scenarios. By preparing for these events, the department safeguards lives and minimizes harm to residents and visitors of El Paso County.

For more information on emergency preparedness and response in El Paso County, visit:

To sign up for local emergency alerts, visit:

Extreme Heat

Stay Cool, Stay Safe!

  • Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and avoid dehydration.
  • Seek Shade. Limit your time in direct sunlight and find shade or air-conditioned spaces to cool down.
  • Protect Yourself. Wear lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing, along with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  • Time It Right. Plan outdoor activities during cooler hours, such as early morning or late evening, to avoid the peak heat.
  • Never Leave Kids or Pets. Never leave children or pets unattended in vehicles, even for a short time. The inside temperature can rapidly become deadly.
  • Apply Sunscreen. Use sunscreen with a high SPF and reapply it regularly, especially if you're spending time outdoors.
  • Check on Vulnerable Individuals. Reach out to elderly neighbors, individuals with health conditions, or those who may need assistance during extreme heat.
  • Stay Near Water. If possible, stay near a pool, lake, or beach to cool off, but remember to follow water safety guidelines.
  • Seek Emergency Assistance. If you or someone experiences heat-related illness symptoms (dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat), seek medical help immediately.

Remember, extreme heat can be dangerous, but by taking these precautions, we can all stay safe and beat the heat together!

Types of Heat Injury

There are several types of heat injuries that can occur due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures or intense physical activity in hot environments. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a comprehensive resource for extreme heat.

Below are some common heat-related illnesses:

  1. Heat Rash: Heat rash, also known as prickly heat or miliaria, is a skin condition caused by blocked sweat ducts. It results in small, itchy, or prickly red bumps on the skin. Heat rash is common in hot and humid environments, especially in areas where sweat is trapped against the skin.
  2. Heat Cramps: Heat cramps are painful muscle contractions or spasms that typically occur during or after intense physical activity in high temperatures. They are often caused by dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Commonly affected muscles include the calves, arms, abdomen, and back.
  3. Heat Syncope: Heat syncope refers to fainting or lightheadedness caused by low blood pressure and a sudden reduction in blood flow to the brain. It usually occurs after prolonged standing or sudden changes in body position in hot conditions.
  4. Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion is a condition resulting from dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Symptoms include heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, rapid heartbeat, and pale or clammy skin. If left untreated, it can progress to heatstroke.
  5. Heatstroke: Heatstroke is a severe and potentially life-threatening condition. It occurs when the body's temperature regulation system fails, and the body temperature rises rapidly. Symptoms include high body temperature (above 103°F or 39.4°C), hot and dry skin, confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures, and even organ failure. Heatstroke requires immediate medical attention.

It is important to note that heat-related illnesses can be prevented by staying hydrated, seeking shade, wearing appropriate clothing, and avoiding excessive physical activity in extreme heat. If you or someone around you experiences symptoms of a heat-related illness, it is crucial to seek medical help and take immediate measures to cool down the body.

Pet Safety

To ensure heat safety for pets:

  1. Provide Shade: Ensure that your pets have access to shaded areas throughout the day, especially during the hottest hours.
  2. Provide Fresh Water: Keep a constant supply of fresh, cool water available for your pets. Consider using a pet fountain or adding ice cubes to the water bowl to keep it cool.
  3. Avoid Hot Surfaces: Walk your pets during cooler parts of the day to prevent their paws from burning on hot pavement or asphalt.
  4. Never Leave Pets in Cars: Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can quickly become dangerously hot. Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car.
  5. Limit Exercise: Avoid intense exercise during peak heat times and opt for shorter, more frequent walks. Be mindful of signs of overheating, such as excessive panting, drooling, or lethargy.
  6. Try Cooling Methods: Provide cooling options like wet towels or cooling mats for your pets to lie on. You can also use pet-specific cooling products or fans to help keep them cool.
  7. Keep Up With Grooming: Regularly groom your pets to remove excess hair and prevent matting, which can hinder their ability to regulate body temperature.

Remember, each pet is unique, so pay attention to their individual needs and consult a veterinarian if you have any concerns about heat safety.

If you suspect your pet has a heat injury, it's important to act quickly and seek veterinary care. Here are some immediate steps to take:

  1. Move to a Cool Area: Immediately move your pet to a shaded or air-conditioned location to minimize further heat exposure.
  2. Provide Water: Offer your pet cool, fresh water to drink. Do not force them to drink, but encourage them to stay hydrated.
  3. Wet Their Body: Use cool (not cold) water to wet your pet's body, especially the head, neck, and paw pads. You can use wet towels or a gentle hose spray. Avoid using ice-cold water as it may constrict blood vessels.
  4. Use a Fan: Set up a fan near your pet to help promote evaporation and cooling. Ensure they have proper ventilation to prevent overheating.
  5. Monitor Their Temperature: Use a rectal thermometer to check your pet's temperature. Normal range for dogs and cats is between 99.5°F and 102.5°F (37.5°C and 39.2°C). If the temperature is above this range, contact a veterinarian immediately.
  6. Avoid Overcooling: Do not use ice or extremely cold water, as it can cause the blood vessels to constrict and potentially worsen the situation. Cooling too rapidly can also lead to other complications.
  7. Transport to a Veterinarian: Even if your pet appears to be recovering, it's crucial to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Heat injuries can have serious internal effects that may not be immediately apparent.

Remember, these steps are not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Contact a veterinarian promptly for guidance and treatment tailored to your pet's specific condition.


Animal Law Enforcement

Humane Society Pikes Peak Region

CDC-Healthy Pets, Healthy People

Cold Weather

Cold temperatures and winter storms can be dangerous. This guide will help provide some basic information on how to stay warm indoors and lower your risk for cold-related injuries outdoors. Planning ahead and preparing yourself for low temperatures can help keep you safe as temperatures begin to fall.

Getting Your Home Ready for Winter

While your home can be a great refuge from the winter cold, some preparations are necessary to reduce the likelihood of emergencies and keep you warm. Here are some tips to get your home ready for winter weather:

  • Have your heating system professionally inspected and serviced to ensure reliable and safe operation.
  • Have a safe alternative heating source available with fuel available in case of a power outage.
  • Insulate outdoor water lines and learn how to use water shut-off valves in your home in the event that a pipe bursts.
  • Trim branches overhanging your home or power lines to avoid damage during heavy snow, ice, or high winds.
  • Install or inspect smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.
  • For more tips on preparing your home for the cold: https://coloradosprings.gov/winterhomeprep

Getting Your Vehicle Ready for Winter

Winter weather can present unique transportation challenges. It is always best to avoid traveling in hazardous weather, but if you need to venture out these tips can help you stay safe:

  • Inspect your car’s radiator for leaks and make sure the anti-freeze is above the minimum level.
  • Check your tire tread depth and replace tires if necessary to maintain the best traction you can.
  • Keep your gas tank as full as possible.
  • Keep windshield washer fluid filled with a winter preparation.
  • Keep an emergency kit in your car that contains the following:
    • Cell phone, charger, and extra battery
    • Additional clothing and blankets/sleeping bags for warmth
    • Food and water
    • First-aid kit
    • Jumper cables, flares, shovel, ice scraper, snow brush
    • Flashlight
    • Tire chains
    • Sand or cat litter for traction
    • Tow rope or chain

Dressing for Cold Weather

What you wear outdoors has a large impact on your ability to withstand colder temperatures. However, the best way to stay safe during winter storms and severe cold is to stay dry and get indoors if possible. If you are going to venture outside, here are some tips to help stay warm:

  • Wear several layers of lighter, warm clothing underneath your coat, pants, and footwear like long underwear and pull-over sweaters.
  • Put on gloves or mittens and a hat that covers your ears.
  • Coats should be wind resistant to help retain body heat.
  • Wearing waterproof boots with insulation is best.
  • Avoid cotton clothing if you will be outside for an extended period because it soaks up moisture and takes a long time to dry which can lead to hypothermia. Ideally, your layers should be made of moisture-wicking materials like polyester or wool.

Signs of Cold-Related Injury

Knowing symptoms of serious cold-related injuries can help determine when emergency help is needed. Common illnesses related to cold and basic first aid principles are included below. However, if someone is experiencing a medical emergency, activate emergency services before rendering first aid:

  • Hypothermia  - An abnormally low body temperature caused by prolonged exposure to low temperatures
    • Early symptoms include:
      • Shivering
      • Fatigue
      • Loss of Coordination
      • Confusion and disorientation
    • Late symptoms include:
      • No shivering
      • Blue skin
      • Dilated pupils
      • Slowed pulse and breathing
      • Loss of consciousness
    • First Aid
      • Move the victim to a warmer location out of the elements
      • Remove any wet clothing
      • Warm the center of their body first with electric blankets (if available) or skin to skin contact under loose layers of dry blankets or sheets
  • Frost Bite – Freezing injury to the body that is most common on the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, and toes.
    • Symptoms of frost bite:
      • Numbness
      • Tingling or stinging
      • Aching
      • Bluish or pale, waxy skin
    • First Aid
      • Get victim to warm location as soon as possible
      • Warm the area
        • Body heat (such as an armpit for frost bitten fingers or toes)
        • Immerse the area in warm (not hot) water
        • Do not use heating pads, or heat from a fireplace, stove, or radiator as this can lead to burning of numb areas
      • Do not rub affected area as this may cause additional injury
  • Trench Foot – Also known as Immersion Foot and is caused by prolonged exposure of feet to wet and cold conditions.
    • Symptoms of trench foot:
      • Reddening of the skin
      • Numbness
      • Leg cramps
      • Swelling
      • Tingling pain
      • Blisters or ulcers
      • Bleeding under the skin
      • Gangrene (foot may turn dark purple, blue, or gray)
    • First Aid
      • Remove wet footwear (boots and socks)
      • Dry the foot
      • Avoid walking on feet, as this may cause additional damage

Flood Preparedness

Flooding can happen quickly in El Paso County, leaving normally dry areas overflowing with water. To lower the risk of serious emergencies related to floods, it is important to understand your risk and to have a plan to stay safe.

Know Your Flood Risk

No matter where you work or live, some risk of flooding exists. However, some areas are more prone to flooding such as homes built near large bodies of water. Find out if you live in a flood zone and what the relative risk is by visiting floodsmart.gov and typing in your address.

Have a Plan

Flash flooding may occur with little to no warning, making having a plan even more important. Designate an area of higher ground you can evacuate to quickly and keep watch on weather-related news during sudden downpours to get warnings about flash flooding in your area. Having an emergency kit (ready.gov/kit) available will help you to get to safety more quickly.

Be sure to follow all evacuation orders for your area to avoid being caught in an emergent situation. Rescue personnel cannot always reach you easily if you fail to evacuate a dangerous area quickly. For tips on reentering your home after flooding has occurred, click here.

Fire Preparedness


Wildfires are one of the risks that are a part living in Colorado.  This is why it is important to understand your risk and what you can do to help mitigate the impact to your property and home.  Below are some helpful resources.

Colorado Springs Wildfire Ready is a CSFD site that includes information on wildfire preparedness, planning, evacuation, and prevention.  It also includes current wildfire conditions, a resource library, wildfire podcast, and the CSFD “Living with Wildfire Town Hall Series”.

Fire Information from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office provides evacuation information, current open burning status, and other wildfire resources.

This EPC site provided information on how you can help to improve the chance that your home and neighborhood can be saved from a wildfire by creating a defensible space.

Home Fires

If a fire starts in your home, you may have less than 2 minutes to evacuate. This is part of the reason it is so important to mitigate and prepare for home fires. These are some helpful resources to help keep you and your family safe and ready.

The Red Cross has created a collection of videos and resources to better meet the fire safety needs of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community. These resources include information on fire safety and escape planning, assistive alert devices such as bed shaker alarms, and how to help children prepare to escape a home fire.

Colorado Springs Fire Department provides fire prevention and safety information for homes and businesses.