High winds cause damage across campus: How to prepare for weather emergencies

January 31, 2017

Jasmine Nelson

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     High winds in Colorado Springs caused $15,000 in weather damages on campus, including the fall of a large tree outside of Cragmor Hall on Jan. 9.

     Damaged fencing at University Hall and the Family Development Center, and damage to the netting at Mountain Lion Stadium was among the high costs, according to Rob Dougherty, executive director of the Physical Plant.

     The insurance claim for the damage is being processed, and it has not been decided whether the tree will be replaced.

     “I think we’re fortunate that it wasn’t as bad as it felt like and some other people were experiencing,” he said.

     The campus deals with weather-related damages and maintenance every year, but some years and incidents are more extreme than others, said Dougherty.

     Students received a UCCSAlert text message advising them of the high winds, according to Tim Stoecklein, emergency manager.

     Stoecklein said that this alert system is used only for the most pressing information that may require immediate action from students.

     “We want you to know when you get that text alert that it’s something important,” he said.

     In anticipation of typical winter weather conditions, students need to have a plan, and prepare resources. The worst thing to do is panic during an emergency, said Stoecklein.

     “Have an (emergency) kit; think about that kit not just for severe weather, but in general. What are things that I would need or might need? And just put that in a backpack, and then revisit it now and then,” said Stoecklein.

     Students should store these kits in their cars and homes for snow storms in case of a prolonged power outage and should include medication, food and water.

     “Additionally, for winter, I’m a fan of disposable hand warmers—something to help keep you warm if your vehicle was to run out of gas. Don’t use candles or open flame, especially inside your car,” Stoecklein said.

     “You have to worry about carbon monoxide as well. You also see things recommended like kitty litter for extra traction.”

     Stoecklein encourages students to store extra winter clothes in their car, like old winter coats and pants, in case of a breakdown. During severe weather conditions, tow trucks and police may not be able to assist you as quickly as during an accident.

     “I’m also a fan of keeping something to dig with, be that a coffee can or a shovel.”

     Students are accustomed to having constant access to their cell phone, but having a hard copy of contact information may be important when students cannot charge their phones, or are unable to use someone else’s phone or an emergency phone.

     Other emergencies that students should be prepared to face are wild fires, classroom fires and traffic accidents.

     “We always say preparedness, not paranoia,” Stoecklein said.

     Students should monitor their surroundings and think about the best course of action to take during an emergency.

     If students have questions or want more information on how to be prepared for weather or other emergencies, they should contact Stoecklein at tstoeckl@ uccs.edu. Stoecklein is available to talk to classes, staff and faculty, as well as individuals about emergency preparedness.

     Follow UCCS Emergency Management for updates on campus closures, weather information, safety tips and other advice.