Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lightning Safety Information

By Bill Fortune

June 18 to 24 is Lightning Safety Awareness Week in Colorado. Working with the National Weather Service, we thought it would be helpful to provide some discussion about outdoor lightning risk reduction.

Being outdoors is the most dangerous place to be during a thunderstorm. Each year, nearly all people in the United States injured or killed by lightning were involved in an outdoor activity. They were struck while working outside, were at or participating at an outdoor sporting event, or were boating or fishing. Other examples include people struck while they were hiking, mowing the lawn or simply going to or from their car. Quite a few were on their own property when they were struck.

Unfortunately, there is no place outside that is safe from lightning. 

The only safe place to be when lightning is occurring is either inside a substantial building, or an enclosed automobile. Here are some important things to remember before venturing outdoors:

  • An informed decision will help you avoid being in an area where lightning is expected to occur. Before heading out, get an updated forecast. 
  • Stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, check National Weather Service web sites, go to your favorite broadcast or print media, or access your favorite weather apps on your cell phone for the latest forecast. 
  • In Colorado, it is important to remember that thunderstorms typically develop in the mountains after 11 am. So it is best to plan your climbing or hiking trip so that you are coming down the mountain by late morning. If thunderstorms are in the forecast, consider planning an alternate indoor activity or, if you still plan to be outside, make a plan which will allow you to quickly get to a safe shelter if a storm should develop. 
  • Once you are outside, keep up-to-date on the weather via your smart phone or portable NOAA weather radio receiver. Check for updated forecasts. Check if storms are near you by checking the latest radar imagery on your cell phone. There are now several smart phone apps you can purchase that show you real-time lightning activity in your area. 
  • Do not forget to simply look around you to make sure storms are not developing in your vicinity. 

Two outdoor lightning scenarios

  • Outside and shelter is nearby. If you are outside, such as a park, a lake, or an outdoor sporting event, know where the nearest safe location can be accessed.. A safe location is any substantial building (A substantial building is a structure which is fully enclosed and has electrical wiring and plumbing). Examples of substantial buildings include a business, a home, or a church. In addition, any enclosed hard-topped car or truck also offers excellent protection from a lightning strike. 
    • Once you hear thunder or see lightning, immediately stop what you are doing and quickly get to the safe shelter. Do not wait until the rain starts to seek safe shelter. 
    • Once inside a safe shelter, it is recommended you stay there for 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder. Past history has shown that most people who were outdoors and were injured or killed by lightning had access to a nearby safe shelter. 
    • Do not wait to seek safe shelter when lightning threatens. 
    • When you hear thunder or see lightning, it is important for you, and your family, to act quickly. 
    • It is critically important to avoid shelters that are not safe from lightning, such as picnic shelters, bullpens, any type of tent, or any other small buildings that are open to the elements. 
    • NEVER...NEVER...get under a tree when a thunderstorm is nearby or overhead. 
    • It is important that all sports leagues and other outdoor groups have a lightning response plan that is understood and consistently applied for the safety of the participants. Part of the plan would include a designated weather watcher at each outdoor event with the authority to postpone or cancel the event due to the threat of lightning. It is also important that people know where to seek safe shelter if a storm should threaten. 
  • If no safe shelter is nearby. This situation typically occurs to people who are hiking or camping in the back country. Unfortunately, in this scenario, there is not much you can do to reduce your risk from being struck by lightning. 

    • The best thing to do is move away from tall isolated objects, such as trees. 
    • Stay away from wide open areas. 
    • Stay as low as possible with your feet close together if lightning is nearby. 
    • If you are with a group of people, spread out, that way if someone is struck by lightning, the others can offer first aid. 
    • If camping in the back country, place your tent in a low area away from tall isolated trees. 
Much of the material and the graphics for this article were provided by the National Weather Service. For more information about lightning safety visit For information about preparing for emergencies visit For detailed weather information anytime visit

Monday, June 19, 2017

Third Annual Sporting Clays Invitational

By Bill Fortune
The third annual Sporting Clays Invitational was held June 10, 2017 at the Peaceful Valley Scout
Getting ready to start at 2017 Shooting Clays Invitational.
Photo by David Hayden/American Red Cross
Ranch near Elbert Colorado. Participants were greeted with a warm spring day as they converged on the scout ranch to begin the day of sport shooting.

This is third event of this type and, as in the past, was focused on raising money for the American Red Cross Services to the Armed Forces program. The event was coordinated by Tom Gonzalez, Executive Director for the Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado. “This is a very important event for us and it serves a very worthwhile program, supporting our military, their families and veterans,” Gonzalez said. “We have a large military component in our territory who will benefit from the funds raised.”
Shooting action at the Shooting Clays Invitation. Photo by
RW Firth/American Red Cross
Teams from all around Colorado joined in for the competition that began early on with warm up games like Flurry, 5-stand and Crazy Quail. That was followed by an opening presentation and a safety briefing. The fun stared officially following the safety briefing as the teams proceeded to their assigned target.

The participants were all shooting enthusiasts and there was a sense of excitement and comradery as the targets were pulled and the shooting began. There were several shooting stations along the course that afforded challenges for all levels of enthusiast. 

The winning team from Eaton Steel Mfg in Pueblo
Photo by David Hayden/American Red Cross
This was the third annual Sporting Clays Invitational and since the event began more than $350,000 has been raised to support the work of the Services to Armed Forces program of the American Red Cross. To learn more about the Services to Armed Forces program, how it helps our service members, their families and veterans and how you can be part of this humanitarian movement, visit our web site at

If you would like to see more photos from the 2017 Sporting Clays Invitational visit our Flickr album.

Red Cross Opens Shelter for Residents of Maplewood Village Apartment

UPDATE --- Denver, Monday, June 19, 2017 - The shelter opened for the Maplewood Village Apartment Complex will close at 5:00 P.M., June 19, 2017. Accommodations have been made for all displaced residents. A full update will be provided at the apartment complex at 5:00 P.M. The Red Cross feeding vehicle will be on scene at that time to provide food water and snacks. 

UPDATE ---- Denver, Monday, June 19, 2017 - On Sunday, June 18, residents of Maplewood Village Apartment Complex were provided information regarding sheltering for overnight to meet their emergency needs for food and shelter. There were three residents who took advantage of the shelter opportunity. At this time Red Cross has been in contact with our partners at the city of Lakewood Office of Emergency Management, as well as the property owner, to determine the best solution to meet long term needs of the residents who were displaced by the roof collapse. 

Red Cross will continue to work with the partners this afternoon to provide support. Outreach to displaced residents will be made by property management and Red Cross will be on scene at the Maplewood Village Apartment Complex at 5:00 pm this evening with our Mobile Feeding Unit to provide sandwiches, water and snacks. 
Denver, Sunday, June 18, 2017 — On Sunday afternoon, American Red Cross was notified of a building collapse at the Maplewood Village Apartment Complex in Lakewood. Disaster Action Team members responded to the scene and met with residents to assess their immediate needs. There were more then 56 people in need of emergency assistance. Working with City officials, Red Cross has opened a shelter, located at the Green Mountain Recreation Center, 13198 W Green Mountain Dr. Lakewood CO 80227, for those residents who were displaced. 

A meeting was held with the members of the apartment complex, at the scene, where residents were advised the location of the shelter and resources they could expect, along with the opening time of the shelter being 10:30 pm. 

This facility will support the residents this evening with accommodations for food and rest overnight. People are being provided with blankets and comfort kits, which include hygiene items. Moving forward Red Cross will work with City and County officials, property management, and partners to determine the next steps for the residents.

Updates will be provided as the situation continues to unfold in the next 24 hours.  

Friday, June 16, 2017

Red Cross Installing Free Smoke Alarms in Pueblo’s Saddleback Community

Pueblo, CO, 1:00 p.m., Friday, June 16, 2017 — Saturday, June 24, 2017, Red Cross volunteers, the Westlake Fire Department and other volunteers will be in the Saddleback community going door-to-door to install free smoke alarms.

Research shows that having working smoke alarms increases your chance of survival by 50 percent. Home
RC Volunteer Roger Ortiz places
a reminder on a home in the
Saddleback Community
fires occur in Colorado on the average three times each day. Most of those are single homes but, often they are multifamily homes. Recent home fires in Colorado have brought to our attention the importance of working smoke alarms in every home.

  • What: Free Smoke alarm installation
  • When: Saturday June 24, 2017- 9 AM- 1PM
  • Where: Saddleback Community, 5000 Red Creek Springs Rd, Pueblo, CO 81005
  • Point of Contact: Larry Cornett (719) 306-2925

“With more than 150 homes in the Saddleback Community, our goal is to install smoke alarms in every home,” said Larry Cornett, Disaster Program Specialist for American Red Cross in Pueblo. “However; we still need volunteers to help complete our goal.”

Anyone interested in volunteering to help install smoke alarms on June 24 should contact Larry Cornett at or at (719) 306-2925.

The Home Fire Campaign is a nationwide program, that began in 2014, with goals of reducing fatalities caused by home fires by 25 percent. Across the nation we have installed over 840,000 smoke alarms; in Colorado, more than 10,000 have been installed since the beginning of the program.    

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.