Extreme Heat – April 12th, 2024

Heat Waves Kill

According to the Department of Health (MDH), between 2000 to 2016, 54 deaths were directly attributable to extreme heat in Minnesota. On July 19, 2011, an all-time heat index record was set in Minnesota. The air temperatures were 93 degrees Fahrenheit, and the heat index reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit in Moorhead. The National Weather Service (NWS) places high priority on alerting the public to heat wave hazards. Additionally, the MDH has developed an Extreme Heat Toolkit with communications and public-health planning strategies to prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths.

NOAA’s Watches, Warnings and Advisories for Extreme Heat

The National Weather Service issues the following heat-related products as conditions warrantExcessive Heat Outlooks: Are issued when the potential exists for an excessive heat event in the next 3-7 days. An Outlook provides information to those who need considerable lead time to prepare for the event, such as public utility staff, emergency managers and public health officials. Excessive Heat Watches: Are issued when conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event in the next 24 to 72 hours. A Watch is used when the risk of a heat wave has increased but its occurrence and timing is still uncertain. A Watch provides enough lead time so that those who need to prepare can do so, such as cities officials who have excessive heat event mitigation plans. Excessive Heat Warning/Advisories: Are issued when an excessive heat event is expected in the next 36 hours. These products are issued when an excessive heat event is occurring, is imminent, or has a very high probability of occurring. The warning is used for conditions posing a threat to life. An advisory is for less serious conditions that cause significant discomfort or inconvenience and, if caution is not taken, could lead to a threat to life. 

Heat Index

NOAA’s heat alert procedures are based mainly on Heat Index Values. The Heat Index, sometimes referred to as the apparent temperature is given in degrees Fahrenheit. The Heat Index is a measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. To find the Heat Index temperature, look at the heat Index chart below. As an example, if the air temperature is 96°F and the relative humidity is 65%, the heat index–how hot it feels–is 121°F. The National Weather Service will initiate alert procedures when the Heat Index is expected to exceed 105°-110°F (depending on local climate) for at least 2 consecutive days.

Heat Disorders

Heat disorders occur when the body loses its ability to shed heat through circulation and sweating.  Heat-loss efficiency may diminish with age, but sunburn is a factor at any age because it significantly reduces skin’s ability to shed heat. When heat gain exceeds heat loss, or when the body can no longer compensate for fluids and salt lost through perspiration, the core temperature of the body begins to rise, and heat-related illness may develop. Heat disorders vary in seriousness, but they share a common cause: in a warm environment, the person has taken exposure or exercise beyond the limits of the body’s age and physical condition. 

Never Leave Children, Disabled Adults or Pets in Parked Vehicles!

Each year, dozens of children and untold numbers of pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is an acute condition that occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle. Hyperthermia can occur even on a mild day.

Studies have shown that the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults.  Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults. Vehicular Heatstroke Deaths Vehicle Heat Safety Fact Sheet

Tips for Preventing Heat Related Illness

  • Drink more fluids (non-alcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
  • Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar–these cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
  • Stay indoors and, if possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library–even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department or Red Cross chapter to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
  • Although anyone can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:

    • Infants and young children
    • People aged 65 or older
    • People who have a mental illness
    • Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure

  • Visit at-risk adults at least twice a day and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children, of course, need much more frequent attention.
  • If you must be out in the heat:

    • Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours
    • Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two-to-four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Warning: If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage. Remember the warning in the first “tip” (above).
    • Try to rest often, in shady areas
    • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).

This information provided by the Center for Disease Control, National Center for Environmental Health’s Health Studies Branch. 

Related Links 

Hyperthermia – Too Hot for Your Health – National Institute on Aging (Spanish Version here) Extreme Heat – U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Heat Wave Safety Checklist – American Red Cross   Heat Stress – United States Department of Labor

Your safe place from heat




Tornadoes – April 11th, 2024

What To Do During a Tornado Event

Tornado Safety Tips from the National Weather Service

In a House With a Basement

Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench) or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you.

In a House With No Basement 

Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail.

In an Apartment, Dorm or Condo

If you live in an apartment that is on an upper floor, get to the lowest level of the building that you can immediately. This could be an underground parking garage or a neighbor’s first floor apartment. Then move to the most interior area possible, away from windows. If you live in a high-rise apartment building, you may not have enough time to get to a lower level, so picking a place in the hallway in the center of your building is the best idea such as a stairwell.  If that is not available then a closet, bathroom or interior hall without windows is the safest spot in your apartment during a tornado.  Power loss during a tornado storm is common, so avoid elevators and keep a flashlight handy. 

In an Office Building, Hospital or Store

Follow instructions from facility managers. Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building — away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.

In a Mobile Home

Get out! Even if your home is tied down, you are probably safer outside, even if the only alternative is to seek shelter out in the open. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes; and it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. If your community has a tornado shelter, go there fast. If there is a sturdy permanent building within easy running distance, seek shelter there. Otherwise, lie flat on low ground away from your home, protecting your head. If possible, use open ground away from trees and cars, which can be blown onto you.  

At a School

Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.

In a Car or Truck

Vehicles are extremely dangerous in a tornado. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive away from its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Otherwise, park the car as quickly and safely as possible — out of the traffic lanes. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can accelerate the wind while offering little protection against flying debris.

In The Open Outdoors

If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.  

In a Shopping Mall, Large Store or Stadium

Listen for instructions from building security. Watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area, away from windows. Move away from any glass.

In a Church or Theater

If possible, move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway, away from windows. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.

Tornado Safety Fact Sheet

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Floods – April 10th, 2024

Nationally, floods claim nearly 200 lives each year, force 300,000 people from their homes, and result in property damage in excess of $2 billion. In 2019, six out of the nine state and federally-declared disasters in Minnesota involved some sort of flooding.

About 75 percent of flash-flood deaths occur at night. Half of the victims die in automobiles or other vehicles. Many deaths occur when people drive around road barricades that clearly indicate that the road is washed out ahead. For extensive information, resources and data about flooding in the U.S. from the National Weather Service (NWS) visit the NWS Flood Safety website.

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Severe Storms, Lightning, and Hail – April 9th, 2024

Thunderstorm Winds

Thunderstorms can produce straight-line winds that exceed 100 miles per hour. For this reason you should treat severe thunderstorms just as you would tornadoes. Move to an appropriate shelter if you are in the path of the storm. The strong rush of wind from a thunderstorm is called a downburst. The primary cause is rain-cooled air that accelerates downward, producing potentially damaging gusts of wind. Strong downbursts can be mistaken for tornadoes, and they’re often accompanied by a roaring sound similar to that of a tornado. Downbursts can easily overturn mobile homes, tear roofs off houses and topple trees. Campers are especially vulnerable because trees can fall into campsites and onto tents. NWS Guidebook on Thunderstorms, Tornadoes and Lightning Damage from severe wind accounts for half of all weather damage reports in the lower 48 states and is more common than damage from tornadoes. These winds are often called “straight-line” winds to differentiate their damage from tornado damage. Damaging winds are classified as those exceeding 50-60 mph. More information about damaging winds from the National Weather Service. Threat definitions of damaging winds (National Severe Storms Laboratory)

Hail

Hail is product of thunderstorms that causes nearly $1 billion in damage every year. Most hail is about pea sized. Much of it is the size of baseballs, and it can reach grapefruit-size. Large hail stones fall faster than 100 mph and have been known to kill people. More information about hail.

Lightning

Every thunderstorm produces lightning! Lightning kills an average of 27 Americans each year. Hundreds more are severely injured.

Lightning strikes the United States about 25 million times a year. Although most lightning occurs in the summer, people can be struck at any time of year. Lightning kills 20 or more people in the United States each year, and hundreds more are severely injured. 

Lightning Safety Tips

  • NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!
  • If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
  • When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.
  • Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.

Indoor Lightning Safety

  • Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
  • Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
  • Stay away from windows and doors and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.

Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips

If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk:

  • Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks
  • Never lie flat on the ground
  • Never shelter under an isolated tree
  • Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
  • Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)

For more information about lightning safety, please visit the National Weather Service Lightning Safety webpage.

Lightning Safety for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

We all know that “When thunder roars, go indoors.” But what if you can’t hear the thunder? That’s why meteorologists created a new slogan that would be more inclusive of the deaf and hard of hearing community. As a result, “See a flash, dash inside” is now used in conjunction with the original slogan above.

View this public service announcement on lightning safety for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Boat on the lake




Weather Alerts and Warning – April 8th, 2024

You are fortunate to live in an age and country where technology can now communicate with us almost anywhere and give us advanced warnings of impending hazards or other important information. 

Knowing where and how you can receive the warnings and what to do when you get them can mean the difference between life and death.

Learn how you can use the digital world to be in the know during severe weather season.

The information on these pages is designed to provide some background on how citizens, business and communities can be sure they receive critical warnings, what they mean and how to react.

  • Todd County CodeRED Weather Alerts – Signup with Todd County CodeRED and receive weather alerts and emergency notifications. All on your phone a voice, text and/or email. Signup to day.
  • Personal Weather Alerts – Learn how and where to subscribe and receive immediate personal weather alerts on your communications devices, along with Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on your cell phone.
  • Siren Activation Information – Learn how sirens are activated and why. 
  • Types of Warnings – Know the difference between a watch and a warning.

Severe weather products




Compost Bin Sale

Starting on April 29th, a limited number of backyard composting bins will be available for purchase at the Todd County Transfer Station. Compost bins come in two halves that fit in most vehicles, measure 33”x30” when assembled, and can hold 17 cu ft of compost. The bins will be sold at a reduced cost of $40, no advance reservations or sales.

Date: April 29th

Time: 8:00 am – 12:00 pm

FAQ

Do I have to be a resident of Todd County to get a bin?

Yes, or you must reside in Todd County at least part of the year, for example, during the summer months.

Will the bin fit in my small car?

Yes, these bins have two sides, a lid, and two ‘doors’ that you assemble when you get it home. They should fit in most small cars or a small two door with the back seat down.

What if I don’t have access to an outdoor space but I want to compost?

At this time only backyard compost bins are available. If you live in an apartment, worm composting may work for you, but is not part of this sale.

What if I can’t make it to the designated time or location?

You may ask another individual to buy you a bin. There may be bins leftover, call ahead to check availability. NO reservations or advance sales will be allowed.

I’ve tried composting before and it didn’t go well, is this for me?

Yes! Many first-time composters struggle with common issues that are fairly easy to diagnose and correct. Troubleshooting and best practices will be covered in the Composting 101 training offered in partnership with the sale. We will also cover expectations of what composting is and isn’t.

Are you selling a kitchen compost pail for collecting scraps?

This sale does not include a kitchen pail. You are encouraged to find a container that works for you – compost pails of many kinds can be purchased online, but an ice cream pail or old ice bucket with a lid works just as well. Shop your local thrift store or reuse an existing small pail with a lid to save money and reuse instead of buying something new.

Will my compost bin or kitchen pail smell?

At times, yes, a little. But this can be kept to a minimum if you use best practices. We never notice smell from our backyard bin unless it is when we are actively mixing it. Your pail can be washed in the dishwasher or soaked with soapy water to clean it. You can also keep your pail – or any other compost collecting container of choice such as an ice cream pail or large plastic bag – in the freezer or fridge to ensure you don’t have smell or fruit flies.

I am worried about wildlife being attracted by my compost bin, will this happen?

Animals are attracted to food waste that is exposed, and certain kinds of food waste such as meat. As long as you use best practices, you should not experience problems with this. Also, wildlife such as squirrels or mice may want to be near your compost bin or a leaf pile. Although some people become concerned by this, they should be much more concerned about huge amounts of food waste sitting in landfills forever than small critters eating a few scraps. Using a bin with a lid will help prevent pests and covering the bottom of your bin with metal mesh or fine chicken wire can prevent pests from entering on the bottom.

Will my compost bin attract flies?

Yes, flies are one of nature’s decomposers. It is normal and natural to find decomposers such as flies, fruit flies, mold, pill bugs, and other friendly creepy crawlies in your compost pile – that is their job! Composting is not a bug-free process, just as decomposition happening in nature is facilitated by many decomposers, so is composting!

Can I compost pet waste?

It depends. Animal waste and wood shavings/natural bedding from rabbits, gerbils, goats, or similar can be added to your compost bin. Dog waste can be composted, but in a separate container from food waste, and the compost should not be used on plants that grow food. Cat waste and litter should NOT be composted due to possible pathogens.