What does Washington County Emergency Management (WCEM) do?
WCEM is responsible for coordinating emergency preparedness throughout the county. In addition to the writing and coordination of emergency operation plans, WCEM offers public education, and provides assistance to local jurisdictions and county agencies before, during, and after disasters strike. WCEM works in collaboration with local, state, and federal officials, and partners with neighboring jurisdictions, to facilitate better preparedness, response, and recovery from natural and human-made disasters.
Emergency Management is:
- The process of prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery from emergencies and disasters.
- The focal point for overall coordination for all disasters.
- Planning, training, conducting drills, testing equipment and coordinating activities with communities.
- Effective Emergency Management relies on thorough integration of emergency plans at all levels of government and non-government involvement.
Remember for all emergencies, call 911.
- Planning and Preparing
- Severe Weather Awareness
- Contact Information
- Winter Hazard Awareness
- Flood Events
- Emergency Alerts
Outdoor Warning Sirens
Washington County has many outdoor warning sirens. For more information, please see our "Warning Siren Information" sheet.
To see a map of sirens, please see the attached map which was updated in 2016.
Are you ready, Minnesota?
All Minnesotans should begin the process of learning about potential hazards and threats so we are better prepared to react during an emergency. While there is no way to predict what will happen, or what your personal circumstances will be, there are simple things you can do now to prepare yourself and your loved ones.
Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling a supply kit and developing a family communications plan, are the same for both a natural or human-caused emergency. With a little planning and common sense, you can be better prepared for the unexpected.
Washington County Emergency Operations Plan
Washington County Emergency Management is currently updating the Emergency Operation Plan – a countywide plan to provide a guide for emergency operations. The purpose of the plan is to coordinate the effective use of County resources so as to mitigate the loss of life and property, prepare for emergencies, respond to emergencies, recover from the emergency to a state of normalcy and to provide support to political subdivisions in the county which require assistance.
Washington County All-Hazard Mitigation Plan
Washington County Emergency Management is currently updating the All-Hazard Mitigation Plan – a countywide plan required by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to retain eligibility for certain FEMA funding sources. Washington County Emergency Management will be submitting the revised plan for approval to the State of Minnesota and FEMA in the fall of 2018.
Mitigation is the act of reducing the severity, seriousness, or painfulness of something. Mitigation activities reduce the loss of lives and property damage in the event of a hazard occurring in one or more communities of the county. The All-Hazard Mitigation Plan includes a list of goals, objectives and strategies for cities, townships, and the county to better prepare for disasters by taking steps to reduce the impact a natural or manmade disaster could have. This will help reduce costs when hazards do occur. By being as prepared as possible for various hazards, the county, cities and townships intend to reduce costs and save lives.
This plan update is intended to continue the discussion of mitigating for a variety of hazards such as flooding, tornadoes, and terrorism while documenting risks and associated mitigation projects throughout Washington County.
Thank you to all who chose to be a part of the updating process. If you are interested in viewing the Washington County All Hazard Mitigation Plan, please click here, or, contact Kelli Matzek (see contact information below).
The following cities and townships were a part of updating the Washington County All-Hazard Mitigation Plan:
City of Afton, City of Bayport, City of Birchwood, City of Cottage Grove, City of Dellwood, City of Forest Lake, City of Grant, City of Hugo, City of Lake Elmo, City of Lakeland, City of Lakeland Shores, City of Lake St. Croix Beach, City of Landfall, City of Mahtomedi, City of Marine St. Croix Beach, City of Newport, City of Oakdale, City of Oak Park Heights, City of Pine Springs, City of St. Mary’s Point, City of St. Paul Park, City of Scandia, City of Stillwater, City of Willernie, City of Woodbury, Baytown Township, Denmark Township, Grey Cloud Island Township, May Township, Stillwater Township and West Lakeland Township
For more information or if you have any questions or comments, please contact Kelli Matzek with Washington County Emergency Management at Kelli.Matzek@co.washington.mn.us
This year, Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 12-16, 2021. During this week, Washington County and the National Weather Service will be promoting severe weather safety and emergency preparedness information. Each day of the week highlights a different weather related topic.
- Monday: Alerts and Warnings
- Tuesday: Severe Weather, Lightning and Hail
- Wednesday: Floods
- Thursday: Tornadoes (Tornado Drill Day April 15th)
- Afternoon Drill will sound at 1:45pm
- Evening Drill will sound at 6:45pm
- Friday: Extreme Heat
Additional information on these topics can be found here.
Being prepared for an emergency can be overwhelming, so take it one small step at a time and you will be prepared in no time! An easy, inexpensive way to be prepared is to have a Communication Plan. Your family may not be together when an emergency happens so it is important to plan in advance. You can start by asking yourself these questions:
How will you get to a safe place?
How will you contact one another?
How will you get back together?
What you will do in different situations?
What would you do if cell phone towers were down and you could not use your cell phone?
Helpful Hint: If cell phones are working, send a text message unless you are in immediate danger. Texts often have an easier time getting through during emergencies and you do not want to tie up phone lines needed by emergency responders (like 911).
For a template communications plan, please visit FEMA's website.
More helpful information is available at www.ready.gov.
See the attached map for outdoor warning siren locations in Washington County.
See the attached flyer for more information on when sirens are activated.
Alerts and Warnings information:
- NOAA Weather Radio
- Personal Weather Alerts
- Siren Activation Information
- Types of Warnings
- You can always find more information by following us on the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Facebook Page at: www.Facebook.com/wcsomn.
Emergency Medical Services
Winter Weather Living
Terms To Know
Winter Storm Watch: Severe winter weather conditions MAY affect your area.
Winter Storm Warning: Severe winter weather conditions WILL affect your area.
Blizzard Warning: Considerable falling and/or blowing snow with sustained wind speeds of at least 35 MPH will affect your area.
Travel Advisory: Winter conditions make driving inadvisable for your area. Travel Travel only if absolutely necessary, use public transportation if possible.
If you must use your car, follow these tips
- Keep your car in good working order; battery, tires, antifreeze, windshield wipers and fluid.
- Maintain a full tank of gas.
- Add dry gas.
- Do not travel alone if at all possible.
- Keep radio on for weather and emergency information.
Have an emergency winter storm kit in the car that includes the following:
- Container of sand or kitty litter and shovel.
- Windshield scraper and de-icer.
- Tow line or rope.
- Flashlight with extra batteries and flares.
- Cellular phone or emergency radio.
- Blanket, gloves, socks, hat and overshoes.
- Brightly colored cloth to use as a flag.
- First aid kit with matches.
- Pocket knife.
- Several blankets or sleeping bag.
- Battery booster cables.
- High energy bars.
If a Blizzard Traps You In Your Vehicle
- Don’t panic, Stay in the car.
- Do not leave the car to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. You may become disoriented and lost in the blowing and drifting snow. Being lost in open country during a blizzard is extremely dangerous. You are more likely to be found in your car and will at least be sheltered there.
- Display a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna and raise the car hood.
- Occasionally run the engine for about ten minutes to keep warm.
- Run the heater when the car is running.
- Turn on the car's dome light when the car is running.
- Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.
- Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
- Exercise lightly by clapping hands and moving arms and legs occasionally. Avoid staying in one position too long.
- Huddle together.
- Use newspapers, maps, and even the removable car mats for added insulation.
- Avoid over exertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.
- Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.
Isolation in Your Home
A severe winter storm can isolate you for several days. The following advice can help you:
- Maintain an adequate supply of heating fuel.
- Store an emergency supply of food that does not require refrigeration or cooking.
- Have a portable radio and flashlight on-hand with fresh batteries. Keep tuned to weather and emergency information stations.
- Be prepared to be without electricity and conventional heat and cooking.
- CAUTION: Know how to operate emergency heating and lighting equipment safely. USE ONLY SAFETY LISTED EQUIPMENT!
- Check all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to assure they are in good working condition.
If You Must Go Outside
- Observe the following safety measures:
- Avoid overexertion. Cold weather itself, without any physical exertion, puts an extra strain on the heart. If you add to this the strain of heavy physical activity such as shoveling snow, pushing an automobile or even walking too fast or too far, you risk damaging your body.
- Dress warmly in loose-fitting, layered, light-weight clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Wear a hat. Protect your face and cover your mouth to protect your lungs from very cold air. Wear mittens instead of gloves -- they allow your fingers to move freely in contact with one another and will keep your hands much warmer.
- Watch for frostbite and other symptoms of cold-weather exposure. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, tip of nose, ear lobes. If such symptoms are detected, get medical attention immediately. Do not rub with snow or ice -- this does not help the condition and, in fact, will make it worse. The best treatment for frostbite is the rewarming of the affected tissue, as described above in the section on treatment for cold weather exposure.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages. Alcohol causes the body to lose its heat more rapidly -- even though one may feel warmer after drinking alcoholic beverages.
- Keep yourself and your clothes dry. Change wet socks and all other wet clothing as quickly as possible to prevent loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
- If paralyzed persons or infants must go outside in severe weather, they should be checked frequently for signs of frostbite.
Signs of Cold Weather Exposure
- When the body begins to lose heat faster than it can produce it, a condition called hypothermia begins to develop. The symptoms become very apparent, and include:
- Uncontrollable shivering
- Vague, slow, slurred speech
- Memory lapses; incoherence
- Immobile, fumbling hands
- Frequent stumbling; lurching gait
- Apparent exhaustion; inability to get up after a rest.
Treatment of Exposure
- If a person shows any signs of overexposure to cold or wet and windy weather, take the following measures -- even if the person claims to be in no difficulty. Often the person will not realize the seriousness of the situation.
- Get the person into dry clothing and into a warm bed or sleeping bag with a "hot" water bottle (which should actually be only warm to the touch, not hot), warm towels, heating pad, or some other such heat source.
- Concentrate heat on the trunk of the body first -- that is, the shoulders, chest and stomach.
- Keep the head low and the feet up to get warm blood circulating to the head.
- Give the person warm drinks.
- Never give the person alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers or pain relievers. They only slow down body processes even more.
- Keep the person quiet. Do not jostle, massage or rub.
- If symptoms are extreme, call for professional medical assistance immediately.