Idaho Boosts Flood Safety with FEMA Training

As spring flood season unfolds in Idaho, emergency response and flood mitigation professionals are collaborating to identify life safety needs for development in flood-prone areas. From April 8-11, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 10 and the Idaho Department of Water Resources co-hosted FEMA’s Managing Floodplain Development Through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) course. This intensive training provided attendees with an in-depth exploration into floodplain management under the NFIP umbrella.

The course, held at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Southwest Regional Office in Nampa, brought together floodplain managers, developers, engineers, and emergency managers from across the state. Among them were Idaho Office of Emergency Management (IOEM) Planners, Delanie Edmunds and Christina Lazar, and Risk MAP Program Manager, Robin Kiska. Together, they delved into a four-day course to strengthen Idaho’s resilience against flooding challenges.

The training reviewed important topics such as NFIP minimum floodplain management regulations, Substantial Improvement/Substantial Damage (SI/SD) criteria, and the vital role of permitting processes in floodplain management. Participants also gained insights into floodplain management regulations, the significance of ordinance administration, and the interplay between floodplain management and flood insurance.

In addition, attendees explored Letters of Map Change (LOMCs), flood hazard mitigation solutions, and the roles and responsibilities of a floodplain administrator before and after disaster events.

At the end of the course, participants took on performance evaluations and research assignments to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

For professionals like Edmunds, Kiska, and Lazar, this course was as a pivotal step toward achieving certification as a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM). Upon successful completion of the CFM exam, they would be able to review developments in floodplain areas, prioritizing life safety in every decision made for Idahoans.

“The information in this course helps Idaho build structures that keep citizens safe from flooding events,” said Edmunds. “Above all, our primary focus remains on ensuring life safety.”

Managing Floodplain Development Through the National Flood Insurance Program course

IOEM Unites Federal and State Agencies for Disaster Housing Preparedness Plan

As states and local jurisdictions have learned, the availability of long-term housing during disaster recovery is crucial to rebuilding a local economy after disaster strikes. In reviews of various disasters throughout the nation catastrophic housing response efforts has shown to be a consistent area for improvement. Within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 10, there is also the need to identify long-term disaster housing capacity in response to a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake disaster. The State of Idaho would most likely be asked to house not only first responders but citizens in our neighboring states as well, during a period while rebuilding efforts are underway on the West Coast.

In Fiscal Year 2021, the Idaho Office of Emergency Management (IOEM) received a Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant from FEMA to develop a State Catastrophic Housing Response Framework. Innovate Emergency Management (IEM) was contracted to work with IOEM, various state, local, and volunteer organizations to develop a framework for how the State of Idaho would respond to requests for long term housing support following a disaster.

This combined effort resulted in not only a Catastrophic Housing Statewide Framework but a Local Long-Term Housing Template and Quick Response Checklist for county use as well. In the event of such a disaster, local jurisdictions now have a template they can use to mold into their plans and operations that dovetails into the Statewide Framework.

The columniation of this effort was a four-hour tabletop exercise on Tuesday, March 26 bringing together federal response agencies, state emergency response, county commissioners, emergency managers, first responders, the American Red Cross, state and private housing agencies amongst others. The framework was put through it’s paces, validated, and all lessons learned will be incorporated back into the framework.  

IOEM is grateful to all of the organizations that participated in this development and the exercise wrapping up this effort!

IOEM Enhances Lemhi County First Responders Hazmat Preparedness

Local first responders in Lemhi County gathered for an essential Hazmat Training organized by the Idaho Office of Emergency Management (IOEM) on April 7. The hybrid Awareness/Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) and State Hazmat Plan training aimed to equip participants with essential skills to identify hazardous materials incidents and coordinate effective responses.

Attendees included representatives from the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office, local search and rescue teams, and multiple fire departments within the region. Instructors from Regional Response Team 7, IOEM, and State Communications led the training, providing expertise and guidance throughout the sessions.

One of the highlights of the training was the Hazmat Awareness portion, during which attendees engaged in a tabletop exercise. This exercise allowed participants to simulate a hazmat scenario, from initial identification to the reporting of the incident to state communications. Through this hands-on activity, responders sharpened their decision-making skills and practiced effective communication protocols.

“The tabletop exercise was incredibly beneficial in helping emergency responders understand the complexities of hazmat incidents and the importance of prompt and accurate reporting,” said IOEM Hazmat and Special Teams Program Manager, Sarah Cerda.

Throughout the training, participants reviewed and gained knowledge to identify hazardous materials, assess risks, and initiate appropriate response measures. By investing in hazmat training, Lemhi County’s first responders are ensuring their commitment to preparedness and public safety.

IOEM is dedicated to supporting local communities in their efforts to enhance hazmat preparedness and response capabilities. Through activities like this training, responders are better equipped to safeguard lives, property, and the environment in the face of potential hazards. For more information on Hazmat training opportunities, contact Sarah Cerda at scerda@imd.idaho.gov.

Strengthening Idaho’s Emergency Response: A Year of Third Thursday Trainings

The Idaho Office of Emergency Management (IOEM) team stays ready and prepared thanks to Third Thursday trainings! These monthly drills are opportunities for the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) to work on plans and procedures, work through issues, and review those plans and procedures, so staff are prepared during an emergency or disaster.

March 2024 marked a significant milestone for IOEM as it celebrated one year of engaging in these monthly trainings at the Idaho Response Center (IRC). These sessions have proven effective in honing procedures and fostering a culture of readiness among team members.

Led by the Plans section of Idaho SERT, March’s Third Thursday training focused on the Situation Report (SitRep) process. The primary objectives were to acquaint the SERT with the SitRep process and to provide hands-on practice in its creation. Knowing how to craft a clear and detailed SitRep can help leadership to coordinate a timely and effective state response. It ensures all stakeholders are informed about the state of the current and/or changing situation.

The exercise received valuable support from emergency managers of Blaine, Kootenai, and Valley counties, along with the Department of Administration and the Department of Health and Welfare’s emergency support function coordinators. Their collaboration was integral as they provided essential information for the SERT Plans Section to incorporate into a SitRep.

Participants enthusiastically embraced the training, as they engaged in group activities and utilized job aids to help craft SitReps. The collective effort demonstrated great teamwork, with each member contributing relevant ideas and ensuring the creation of SitReps with accurate and actionable information. IOEM team members who participated in the training shared their enjoyment with the collaborative learning experience and emphasized the importance of such exercises in strengthening preparedness capabilities.

Remember, strong SERT = strong Idaho!

Be Prepared and Safe for Severe Weather in Idaho

Be Prepared and Safe for Severe Weather in Idaho

When springtime rolls around, so does the unpredictable nature of its weather patterns.  Severe weather can strike anytime and anywhere. From thunderstorms that brings damaging winds to the risk of flooding due to snowmelt – being prepared is key to mitigating its impact on you and your loved ones. With the arrival of Idaho’s unexpected weather, the Idaho Office of Emergency Management (IOEM) has gathered tips and resources to keep you and your loved ones safe during severe weather events.

Know Your Risk: Thunder and Lightning

Thunderstorms can be dangerous, with lightning posing a significant threat. Here’s how you can stay safe:

Preparing for Thunderstorms & Lightning

  • Know Your Risk: Understand your area’s risk for thunderstorms and take measures to strengthen your home against potential damage.

Staying Safe During Thunderstorms & Lightning

  • Take Shelter: Move indoors and avoid using water or electronic devices during thunderstorms.

Staying Safe After Thunderstorms & Lightning

  • Stay Informed: Pay attention to weather forecasts and authorities’ instructions regarding potential hazards.

Know Your Risk: Floods

Flooding poses significant risks to life and property. Here’s how you can stay safe:

  • Seek Shelter: Find safe shelter immediately and avoid walking, swimming, or driving through floodwaters.
  • Stay Informed: Pay attention to flood warnings and never underestimate the power of moving water.

Preparing for a Flood

  • Understand Your Risk: Use FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center to determine flood risks in your area and purchase flood insurance if needed.
  • Plan Ahead: Create an emergency plan for your household and gather necessary supplies for evacuation or sheltering in place.

Staying Safe During a Flood

  • Follow Orders: Evacuate if instructed, and listen to authorities for updated information and instructions.
  • Avoid Risks: Stay clear of flooded roads and bridges over fast-moving water.

Staying Safe After a Flood

  • Stay Informed: Pay attention to authorities’ guidance and avoid driving except in emergencies.
  • Exercise Caution: Wear protective gear during cleanup, and be mindful of potential hazards like downed power lines.

For more information on flood safety tips, please visit IOEM’s Staying Safe During Floods blog post.

Know Your Risk: Winter Weather

Winter storms can bring extreme cold and hazardous conditions. Here’s how you can protect yourself:

  • Stay Informed: Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of freezing weather and winter storms.

Preparing for Winter Weather

  • Winterize Your Home: Prepare your home for cold weather, gather necessary supplies, and create an emergency supply kit for your car.

Staying Safe During Winter Weather

  • Avoid Exposure: Limit outdoor activities and dress warmly to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Stay Off Roads if Possible: Minimize travel during severe winter weather, and if trapped in your car, remain inside until help arrives.
  • Recognize Frostbite and Hypothermia: Familiarize yourself with the signs and basic treatments for frostbite and hypothermia. Take prompt action if symptoms arise.
  • Use Generators Safely: Always operate generators outdoors and away from windows, and never use them indoors or in enclosed spaces.

For more information on flood safety tips, please visit IOEM’s Navigating Winter Storms blog post.

Know Your Risk: Tornadoes

Tornadoes are nature’s juggernauts, capable of causing immense destruction within seconds. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe:

  • Stay Informed: Keep a close eye on NOAA Weather Radio and your local news or official social media accounts for updated emergency information.
  • Seek Shelter Immediately: Head to a safe shelter such as a basement, storm cellar, or a small interior room on the lowest level of a sturdy building. Avoid windows, doors, and outside walls.
  • Be Vigilant: Watch out for flying debris and protect your head and neck with your arms.

Preparing for a Tornado

  • Know Your Area’s Risk: Understand the tornado risk in your region and familiarize yourself with the signs of an impending tornado.
  • Sign Up for Alerts: Stay connected to your community’s warning system and pay attention to weather reports.
  • Plan Ahead: Identify and practice going to a safe shelter and ensure your emergency supplies include provisions for your pets.

Staying Safe During a Tornado

  • Act Promptly: Immediately seek shelter in a safe location and pay attention to emergency alerts.
  • Protect Yourself: Cover your head and neck and shield yourself from flying debris.
  • Avoid Driving: If you’re outdoors, do not try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle. Find a sturdy shelter immediately.

Staying Safe After a Tornado

  • Communicate Wisely: Use text messaging or social media to communicate and save phone calls for emergencies.
  • Listen to Local Authorities: Follow instructions from local authorities and avoid fallen power lines or broken utility lines.
  • Safety First: Wear appropriate gear during cleanup and be cautious of potential hazards.

Take Action: Develop an Emergency Plan

  • Create a Plan: Develop a comprehensive emergency plan for your household, considering specific needs and responsibilities.

Remember, preparation is key to staying safe during severe weather events. Stay informed, make a plan, and be ready to act swiftly when disaster strikes. For more information and resources on emergency preparedness, stay connected with IOEM’s social media channels, such as Facebook and X (Twitter), for the latest updates and other preparedness tips.

For more information on preparing before a flooding event, visit the following resources:

Stay safe, Idaho!

Staying Safe During Floods

Floods are among the most common and devastating natural disasters in the United States, and Idaho is no exception. In conjunction with Flood Awareness Week in Idaho, the Idaho Office of Emergency Management (IOEM) urges all residents to take proactive steps to ensure their safety and the safety of their loved ones during flood events.

Floods occur when water overflows onto normally dry land. They can result from various factors such as heavy rain, snowmelt, storm surges, dam failures, and more. Floods can develop slowly or quickly, with flash floods posing a particularly dangerous threat due to their sudden onset and swift-moving waters. It’s crucial to recognize the potential hazards associated with floods and take appropriate actions to stay safe.

Responding to Flood Warnings

If you find yourself under a flood warning, swift action is crucial:

  • Find safe shelter immediately: Avoid areas prone to flooding and seek higher ground.
  • Never attempt to walk, swim, or drive through floodwaters: Just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep away your vehicle. Remember, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
  • Stay off bridges over fast-moving water: These structures can become unstable during floods and pose significant risks to motorists and pedestrians alike.

Depending on the severity of the flooding and official directives:

  • Evacuate if told: Follow evacuation orders issued by local authorities without hesitation.
  • Move to higher ground or a higher floor: Seek elevated locations to minimize your exposure to floodwaters.
  • Stay where you are: If evacuation is not necessary or possible, remain indoors and await further instructions.

Preparing for a Flood

Preparedness is key to mitigating the impact of floods on your household:

  • Know your flood risk: Utilize resources such as FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center to understand the flood risk in your area.
  • Sign up for emergency alerts: Stay informed about potential hazards and emergency alerts by signing up for the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio
  • Purchase flood insurance: Standard homeowner’s insurance policies typically do not cover flood damage. Invest in flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to safeguard your property.
  • Create an emergency plan: Establish evacuation routes, shelter plans, and communication strategies for your family and pets. Stockpile essential supplies including non-perishable foods, water, and medical provisions.

During a Flood

When faced with flooding conditions, prioritize your safety:

  • Follow evacuation orders: Listen to instructions from local authorities and emergency responders.
  • Avoid driving through flooded areas: Obey road closures and barricades to prevent accidents and facilitate rescue efforts.
  • Stay informed: Tune into emergency broadcasts and weather updates via the EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, or local alerting systems.
  • Exercise caution around floodwaters: Refrain from walking, swimming, or driving through flooded areas, and stay clear of bridges over fast-moving water.

After a Flood

Recovery efforts following a flood require careful consideration and attention to safety:

  • Wait for official clearance to return home: Do not re-enter flood-affected areas until authorities deem it safe to do so.
  • Continue to exercise caution: Wear appropriate protective gear and be mindful of potential hazards such as contaminated water, debris, and electrical dangers. Watch out for snakes and other animals that may have sought refuge indoors. Avoid contact with electrical equipment and downed power lines.
  • Use generators outdoors: Keep generators and other gasoline-powered machinery away from enclosed spaces to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

By staying informed, prepared, and vigilant, you can significantly reduce the risks associated with floods and protect you and those around you. For more information on preparing before a flooding event, visit the following resources:

Navigating Winter Storms

Wintertime in Idaho often brings snowfall, which, aside from the picturesque landscapes and winter fun, these colder months often bring winter storms that usher in a slew of dangers. Winter storms increase the risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from overexertion. These conditions also can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice, and high winds, leaving a trail of hazards in their wake.

A winter storm can last for a few hours or carry on for several days which can disrupt daily life and pose significant risks to communities. These storms can cut off heat, power, and communication services, and put individuals into potentially life-threatening situations. Among those most vulnerable are older adults, children, individuals with pre-existing health conditions, and even pets, face greater risks during severe winter weather events. Idaho Office of Emergency Management (IOEM) urges all Idahoans to be ready and prepared for anything.

How to Protect Yourself from Winter Weather

  1. Stay Informed: Familiarize yourself with winter weather terms such as Winter Storm Warning, Winter Storm Watch, and Winter Weather Advisory. Pay attention to weather reports, warnings, and advisories issued by local authorities. Sign up for your community’s warning system, and stay on top of emergency alerts through platforms like the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and NOAA Weather Radio.
  2. Prepare Your Home: Take proactive measures to keep the cold out of your home with proper insulation, caulking, and weather stripping. Learn how to prevent pipes from freezing and install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups. Stock up on essential supplies in case of power outages and consider the specific needs of each household member, including medications and provisions for pets.
  3. Be Ready for Emergencies: Whether at home, work, or on the road, ensure you’re prepared for winter weather emergencies. Create an emergency supply kit for your car, including essentials like jumper cables, sand, flashlights, warm clothing, blankets, bottled water, and non-perishable snacks. Keep your gas tank full to avoid being stranded in wintry conditions.

Safety Tips During Winter Weather

  1. Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Only operate generators and grills outdoors and away from windows. Avoid using gas stovetops or ovens for heating your home.
  2. Stay Off Roads if Possible: Minimize travel during severe winter weather, and if trapped in your car, remain inside until help arrives.
  3. Limit Time Outdoors: Wear layers of warm clothing and be vigilant for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow to reduce the risk of heart attacks.
  4. Recognize Frostbite and Hypothermia: Familiarize yourself with the signs and basic treatments for frostbite and hypothermia. Take prompt action if symptoms arise.

Generator Safety

Generators can be invaluable during power outages, but it’s crucial to use them safely to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and other hazards:

  • Always operate generators outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows, doors, and attached garages.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home and keep the generator dry and protected from the elements.
  • Use heavy-duty extension cords to connect appliances and allow the generator to cool before refueling.

By staying informed, prepared, and vigilant, you can navigate winter storms and protect yourself, your loved one, and neighbors against winter storm challenges. For more information on prepared before an emergency, visit ready.gov/winter-weather.

2024 Identity Theft Awareness Week

As part of Identity Theft Awareness Week, the Idaho Office of Emergency Management (IOEM) is reminding Idahoans of the lurking threats present in today’s digital age and how important it is to take proactive steps in protecting our personal information.

Identity theft happens when cybercriminals acquire sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (PII), such as credit card or social security details, which they either use for personal gain or sell to others.

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Sentinel Network’s latest report, more than 9,000 Idahoans filed fraud reports in 2022 — with Idaho consumers reporting a loss of nearly $30 million. FTC shared identity theft was one of the top categories of fraud reports they received from Idaho residents.

“Identity theft doesn’t discriminate by age,” said IOEM Cyber and Infrastructure Security Program Manager, Chris Volmer. “Because identity theft can wreak havoc on finances, it’s crucial all Idahoans take proactive measures to protect themselves and their families.”

To help prevent identity theft and cybercriminals from stealing your most valuable personal information, IOEM shares cybersecurity tips to keep in mind – not just this week, but year-round.

  • Keep Devices and Applications Updated: The first line of defense against cyber threats is ensuring that your devices and applications are up to date. Enable automatic updates whenever possible to patch security vulnerabilities and strengthen your digital fortress.
  • Utilize Strong Passwords: Gone are the days of simplistic passwords. Embrace the power of long, unique, and complex passwords for each of your accounts. Consider crafting passphrases using a combination of multiple short words that are easy to remember but challenging to crack. Steer clear of common phrases or easily guessable information.
  • Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Enhance your account security by enabling MFA wherever feasible. By requiring an additional factor beyond just a password, such as a code from a mobile app, MFA significantly bolsters the protection of your sensitive information from unauthorized access.
  • Be Cautious with Emails, Texts, and Voicemails: Be vigilant when interacting with electronic communications, particularly those from unknown senders. Refrain from opening suspicious attachments or clicking on dubious links. If in doubt, independently verify the sender’s legitimacy by cross-checking with the company’s official website or contacting them directly.
  • Minimize Data Exposure: Review privacy policies before consenting to share your data with third parties. Avoid disclosing sensitive details, such as birthdates or addresses, on social media platforms, as they can serve as gateways for identity theft.
  • Secure Your Internet Connection: Consider connecting to the internet using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your data and obscure your online presence. This added layer of security is especially crucial when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Exercise Caution in Public Spaces: Remain vigilant when accessing sensitive information in public settings. Avoid conducting financial transactions or accessing confidential data over unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

By adopting proactive measures and staying informed, Idahoans can reduce online risks and safeguard our identities. As we observe Identity Theft Awareness Week, let’s pledge to prioritize cybersecurity and empower ourselves against potential online threats. Stay vigilant, stay secure.

For more information about Identity Theft Awareness Week or to report a fraud, please visit consumer.ftc.gov/idtheftweek.