The mission of the Office of Emergency Management is to protect lives, property, and resources through the four phases of emergency management: Preparedness, Response, Recovery, and Mitigation.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. What are the hazards affecting Jefferson County, and what can I do to be prepared?
A. The major hazards for Jefferson County are wildfire, hazardous materials, flood, severe storms, and earthquake.
The Tri-County Fire Working Group of which Jefferson County is a member, has produced a wildfire risk map which illustrates the risk in various portions of the county. The risk is determined by a comparison of fuel types and topography. The more dense the fuel type, and the steeper the slope, the higher the risk.
Jefferson County is protected by nine volunteer fire departments for both structure and wildland fires. These are located at Montana City, Clancy, Jefferson City, Boulder Town, Boulder Rural, Basin, Elk Park, Whitehall (Jefferson Valley), and Willow Creek. (insert map of fire districts)
WILDFIRE MITIGATION AND PREPAREDNESS TIPS
- Create a safety zone around your home by clearing weeds, pine needles and debris.
- Create a defensible space around your home for at least 30 feet.
- If the home is on a slope, the clear zone should be expanded.
- Keep tree branches at least 15 feet away from chimneys.
- Ensure your driveway and/or bridges are wide enough and built strong enough for fire vehicles to use.
- Have alternate escape route in case one is blocked by fire.
- Use fire resistant materials on the roof.
- Have a supply of water available as well as small tools needed to fight a small fire.
- Make sure your rural address number is in front of your home (not at the remote mailbox) so emergency responders can find you.
The Department of Natural Resources, and the USDA Forest Service also provide Wildland fire protection.
Livestock Producers effected by wildfires can visit http://agr.mt.gov/agr/Producer/HayHotline for assistance with finding hay or pasture for livestock.
Two Interstate Highway systems cross Jefferson County both from the North-South, Interstate 15, and from East-West, Interstate 90. These routes subject the county to transportation related accidents with the heavy movement of hazardous materials along these major corridors. Approximately one-fourth of all trucks carry hazardous materials such as gosoline, liquid petroleum gas, chlorine and anhydrous ammonia. There are, in addition, fixed facilities that store hazardous materials to be used in various industrial processes.
- Always stay upwind of a hazardous material release and as far away as possible.
- Evacuate immediately if told to do so.
- Utilize "shelter in place" techniques if necessary. That is, stay inside and close all doors, windows, vents, and shut off the air conditioning. Utilize towels and duct tape to seal off cracks along doors and windows. Stay where you are until told to leave.
- Stay tuned to local television and radio for information about the emergency.
The county is subjected to river flooding as well as flash flooding caused by rapid moving storms. The peak of the flood season is typically the months of May and June. A rapid snow melt could cause flooding to occur earlier.
For additional information about the designated flood plains in the county, contact the flood plain manager in the County Sanitarian's office.
Before the earthquake:
- Remove heavy objects from high places or anchor them down to prevent falling if the ground shakes.
- Strap your water heater to the wall to prevent gas line leak.
- Know how to shut off the gas, water, and electrical service to your home or business.
During the earthquake:
- Stay calm and stay where you are. Do not go outside of buildings.
- Get under sturdy furniture and avoid windows.
- If outside, stay there but get away from buildings which may have loosening debris. Most injuries occur when people run out of or into buildings.
- If in your vehicle, pull over in a safe spot, do not stop on or under overpasses.
After the earthquake:
- After the earthquake is over, usually a very short time, check for injuries.
- Shut off utilities only if there is a leak or electrical lines are shorting out. If you smell gas, shut off the valve at the meter, open doors and windows and report the leak to authorities.
- Leave your building after the shaking stops. Go to a safe spot away from buildings. Prepare for aftershocks, which are normally smaller than the main shock. Such aftershocks can cause further damage to buildings, or damage a building not already damaged by the initail shock.
- Tune in to local radio and television stations for information.
Winter preparedness safety tips:
- Timely preparation, including structural and non-structural mitigation to avoid the impacts of severe storms can save the home and business owner from unnecessary expenditure.
- Store drinking water, first aid kit, canned food, a can opener (manual), radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
- Keep your vehicle fueled and equipped with an emergency kit.
- Monitor NOAA radio for weather information.
- Understand the weather warnings:
- "Storm watch" means a storm is likely
- "Storm warning" means to take actions, the storm is entering the area
- "Blizzard warning" means snow and strong winds combined will produce blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill - seek shelter immediately
- "Weather advisory" means weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to motorists
- After a storm has pass, report downed power lines and broken gas lines immediately.
- Check for other physical damange to your property.
- Check on neighbors, particularly those that you know may have special needs.
- Beware of over exhaustion. Set your priorities and pace yourself. You may have a mess to clean up, but don't try to do too much too soon.
Jefferson County residents will receive information during a disaster through the Emergency Alert System. Radio stations in both Helena and Butte are partners in the systems, and will provide 24-hour warning information. If the system is activated those stations will be given instructions by county officials for broadcast to the public.