Gilpin County Historic Courthouse front porch/entrance will be closed May 16 to June 17. Signs will redirect visitors.


Emergency Management

The Gilpin County Office of Emergency Management works to provide effective preparation for, efficient response to and effective recovery from emergencies and disasters. We also ensure that plans are in place for big events within the county so that our citizens and visitors can enjoy them in a safe atmosphere. 

What is emergency management?

Emergency Management plans, coordinates and supports a wide range of activates that help communities to reduce vulnerability to hazards, prepare for, and cope with disasters. This work is generally thought of in four phases: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. 

  1. Mitigation is an activity designed to prevent or reduce losses from disaster.
  2. Preparedness is the development of plans and procedures for effective disaster response.
  3. Response is an immediate reaction to a disaster.
  4. Recovery helps restore critical community functions and manage reconstruction after a disaster or emergency. 

While the Office of Emergency Management works towards community resilience on a daily basis, our program loses effectiveness without community involvement. Gilpin County has experienced fires, floods, blizzards, and plane crashes. Your ability to respond appropriately in an emergency situation is critical! Please be certain to familiarize yourself wit the emergency preparedness information provided, so that you can protect yourself and your loved ones. The best response is a prepared community. 

Melissa Lewis Director of Emergency Management

Melissa Lewis

2960 Dory Hill Road
Black Hawk, CO 80422

Sheriff's Office Website

Sheriff's Facebook

The Front Range is no stranger to wildland fire. Our aim is to achieve the common goal we all share; preventing a lost of any kind. With large fires occurring every month of the year, evacuations have become more commonplace. We encourage the adage, 'when in doubt, get out!' If you feel threatened, go! Keep in mind, in some cases, there is no time for formal evacuation notifications due to quickly changing conditions. 

If you or someone close to you has a disability or requires special assistance, please call the Gilpin County Sheriff's Office at 303-582-5500 In an emergency, always dial 911 . 

Shelter in Place

There is a hazard in your area and you should remain or go indoors, not go outdoors, and not evacuate the area. This may be the safest strategy for hazardous materials, law enforcement, or other incidents wherein an evacuation could actually increase the danger to you. Need help with your preparedness planning?


There is a hazard in your area that may require you to evacuate in the near future. Everyone should be prepared to leave at a moment's notice. If you feel you are in danger and want to leave, do so. If you need additional time to evacuate, you should consider leaving now. If you need to arrange for transportation assistance, you should do so immediately. If you have livestock or other large animals, you should consider removing them from the hazard area now. 

Mandatory Evacuation

There is a hazard in your area and you have been ordered to evacuate immediately. If you need assistance evacuating yourself or need help evacuating animals, call 911. You will be provided the safest escape routes known, so make sure you follow the instructions as other routes may be closed or unpassable. You will also be told where an evacuation pint has been established to provide information and sfe place if you have nowhere else to go. Do no delay - evacuation means you need to leave immediately! 

For further information on steps to take during the different Evacuation, please check out our Preparing for Wildfire flyer. 

The Accessible Emergency Information website provides valuable emergency information to those with disabilities. Information covers 18 emergency preparedness topics and is available in downloadable braille and large-print documents and ASL videos.

FEMA also offers instructional videos, a 'Prepare for Emergencies Now' brochure, and a 'Preparing Makes Sense' brochure containing emergency preparedness information specific to people with disabilities and other access and functional needs


Lightning is an enormous electrostatic discharge between the cloud and the ground, other clouds, or within a cloud. According to the National Weather Service, an average of 48 people are killed each year by lightning in the United States. Colorado ranks 8th in the nation for number of injuries and deaths caused by lightning.

Other lightning facts include:

All thunderstorms produce lightning and are dangerous. Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from any rainfall. Lightning can cause death or permanent injury; 10% of people struck by lightning die, and 70% of survivors suffer serious long-term effects, including memory loss, sleep disorders, numbness, fatigue, muscle spasms and stiffness in joints. Lightning DOES strike in the same place twice – or more. In fact, it often has “favorite” places. Lightning strike victims do not carry an electrical charge and should be helped immediately.

Outdoor Lightning Safety

  • Outdoors is the most dangerous place to be during a lightning storm. Take shelter in a building or an enclosed vehicle. Remember the 30-30 rule: The first 30 means you need to take cover if you hear thunder within 30 seconds of seeing lightning; the second 30 reminds you to wait at least 30 minutes after the last lightning flash or thunder before resuming outdoor activity.
  • Do not touch anything metal during a thunderstorm.
  • Avoid standing water.
  • Don’t wait for rain to take shelter. Most people struck by lightning are not in the rain. If you feel your hair stand on end or your skin tingle, squat low to the ground with your hands behind or on top of your head. DO NOT LIE FLAT ON THE GROUND!

Indoor Lightning Safety

  • Avoid hard-wired phones.
  • Avoid using electrical equipment.
  • Avoid plumbing – wait until the storm passes to wash your hands, do dishes, shower or do laundry.
  • Stay away from doors and windows.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors.


Severe Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms develop when cold upper air sinks and warm moist air rises. As the warm air rises, storm clouds develop. These clouds make the thunderstorm, which brings strong winds, lightning, hail and rain. Thunderheads may be miles across at the base and reach heights of 40,000 feet or more. The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes. They most often occur during the afternoon and evening hours. No matter their size, all thunderstorms can be dangerous. In addition, tornadoes and flash floods can be caused by these storms.


High Winds

Violent downslope winds referred to as ‘Chinooks’ are common in Gilpin County. These powerful winds can occur anytime, but are most common from December through May. Historically, the most severe Chinooks have occurred during the month of January, when the jet stream is the strongest and is usually directly over the area. Follow the same precautions for high winds that you would for tornado:

At home or at work:

Go to the basement. If there is no basement, go to an interior hallway or small interior room, on the lowest floor, such as a bathroom or a closet, Avoid windows. Do not remain in a trailer or mobile home when high winds and strong gusts are present. Take cover in a sturdier building or in a ditch. If you are in a high-rise building, go to the most interior rooms or hallways.

At school:

Follow instructions of authorities/teachers. Stay out of structures with wide free-span roofs like auditoriums and gyms.

In a car or outside:

Seek cover in a nearby building, or lie flat in a ditch or ravine. Avoid seeking shelter under an overpass or bridge.

These areas are extremely dangerous when strong gusty winds are present.


Winter Storms & Extreme Cold

Winter storms vary in size and strength and can be accompanied by strong winds that create blizzard conditions and dangerous wind chill. There are three categories of severe winter storms.

  1. A blizzard is the most dangerous of all winter storms. It combines low temperatures, heavy snowfall, and winds of at least 35 miles per hour, reducing visibility to only a few yards.
  2. A heavy snowstorm is one that drops 4 or more inches of snow in a 12-hour period.
  3. An ice storm occurs when moisture falls and freezes immediately upon impact.

Before the Storm

  • Be familiar with winter storm watch and warning messages.
  • Service snow removal equipment and have rock salt on hand to melt ice on walkways and sand or kitty litter to generate temporary traction.
  • To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of newspaper, then cover with plastic to keep out moisture.
  • Insulate walls and attic.
  • Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
  • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside.
  • Locate water valves and know how to shut them off, if necessary

During the Storm


  • Stay inside.
  • If you are using alternative heat, follow fire safety guidelines and ensure proper ventilation.
  • Close off any unused rooms.
  • Put towels at the base of doors.
  • Eat nutritious foods and drink plenty of fluids to provide energy and stay hydrated.


  • Find shelter. If none is available, build a lean-to, windbreak or snow cave for protection from the wind.
  • Build a fire for heat and to attract attention. Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.
  • Eating snow for hydration will cause your body temperature to drop; melt it first.
  • If you are stuck in your car, run the motor for 10 minutes each hour for heat. Make sure that your tailpipe is clear of snow. Make yourself visible to rescuers by turning on the dome light at night when running the engine, or by tying a brightly colored cloth to your antenna.
  • Exercise periodically by energetically moving legs, arms fingers and toes to increase circulation and body temperature.

After the Storm

  • Assist neighbors who may need assistance, such as the elderly, people with infants, or those with special needs.
  • Remove ice and snow from tree limbs, roof and other structures after the storm passes.
  • When shoveling snow, avoid overexertion. Colder temperatures add strain to the heart, and can make strenuous activity feel less tiring.
  • Be attentive to signs of dehydration.
  • When outdoors, wear layers of warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Layers can be removed to prevent chill.
  • Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extremely cold air and avoid speaking unnecessarily.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite, such as loss of feeling and a pale appearance in fingers, toes, nose and earlobes. If these signs are present, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia, including uncontrollable shivering, slow or slurred speech, exhaustion and stumbling. If these are detected, get to a warm location, remove wet clothing and drink warm, non-alcoholic beverages. Get medical attention as soon as possible.

Winter Driving

Winterize your car, including a battery check, antifreeze, oil level and tires. Check thermostat, ignition system, lights, hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, defroster and brakes. Snow tires are recommended, and chains may be required in certain conditions, especially in the mountains. Always keep your gas tank at least half full.

Assemble a winter car kit:

  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Water
  • Snack Food
  • Hat and mittens or gloves
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Tire Chains
  • Bag of road salt and/or sand
  • Brightly colored distress flag
  • Booster cables
  • Road maps
  • Emergency reflectors

If you're not sure whether water is pure, do not drink it or use it to cook, wash dishes, brush teeth, or make ice until you purify it. Contaminated water may smell and taste bad and it can also contain microorganisms that cause Dysentery, Cholera, Typhoid, and Hepatitis. There are many ways to treat water. None are perfect, but a combination of methods is often best. Before treating water, let suspended particles settle to the bottom or strain them through layers of clean cloth. The following three treatment methods are most effective. Although all three methods kill microbes, only distillation will remove contaminants such as heavy metals, salts, chemicals, and radioactive fallout.

Boiling is the safest way to treat water and kill harmful bacteria/parasites. Simply bring the water to a rolling boil for one minute or more.

Chlorination uses liquid chlorine bleach to kill microorganisms such as bacteria. Add six drops (1/8 tsp.) of unscented liquid bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes.

Distillation involves boiling water and collecting the vapor that condenses back to water. Tie a cup to the handle of the lid so that the cup hangs right side up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup isn't dangling int he water). Boil for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid to the cup is distilled.

How to Store Water

Store your water in thoroughly washed plastic, glass, fiberglass, or enamel-lined metal containers. Never use a container that has held toxic substances. Seal your water containers tightly, label them and store them in a cool location.

Unsafe Indoor Water Sources

  • Radiators, hot water boilers, and heating systems
  • Waterbeds. Fungicides added to the water of chemicals in the vinyl make water unsafe to drink
  • Swimming pool and spa chemicals used to kill germs are too concentrated for safe drinking, but can be used for personal hygiene and cleaning

Outdoor Water Sources

  • If you need to find water outside your home, use these sources after purifying them:
  • Rainwater
  • Streams, rivers, and other moving bodies of water
  • Ponds and lakes
  • Natural Springs
  • Melted Snow