Western Plains Public Health environmental health practitioners will inspect public health nuisances under the authority granted through North Dakota Century Code 23-35-09. A public health nuisance can be defined as a condition, activity, or situation that interferes with the use or enjoyment of property and is injurious to health. The nuisance is a public issue when it unreasonably interferes with a right common to the general public. Examples may include breeding areas for flies, collection of sewage, water serving as a mosquito breeding area, rat harborages, bed bugs and other mediums of disease transmission.
If you are aware of a public health nuisance, source of filth, and/or cause of sickness, please call our office at 701-667-3370 or complete the webform.
Each year, winter weather affects North Dakotans on a broad scale, ranging from travel inconvenience to death. However, you can benefit from preparation and making sure you are ready for the wintry season the region is notorious for. Winter storms can give advanced warning or occur suddenly, and a proactive approach, versus a reactive one, can help ensure your safety.
- Blizzard Warning – Issued when an expected blizzard event with sustained winds or frequent gusts greater than 35 mph will accompany blowing snow for three or more hours.
- Blizzard Watch – Issued when conditions are favorable for severe winter weather.
- Freezing Rain – Precipitation that creates a coating of ice on roads and walkways.
- Frost/Freeze Warning – Issued when below freezing temperatures are expected.
- Hypothermia – A health hazard when your body temperature sinks below 96 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Sleet – Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground.
- Wind Chill – The perceived temperature due to weather conditions.
- Winter Weather Advisory – Issued when snow, blowing snow, ice, sleet or a combination of wintry elements are expected but conditions should not be hazardous enough to meet warning criteria. Use cation when driving.
- Winter Storm Watches – Issued when conditions are favorable for a significant winter storm event. Heavy sleet, heavy snow, ice storms, blowing snow or a combination of wintry elements are possible.
- Winter Storm Warning – Issued for significant winter weather events including snow, ice, sleet, blowing snow or a combination of wintry elements. Travel will become difficult or impossible in some situations. Delay travel plans until conditions improve.
- List contact numbers such as hospitals/clinics, doctors, schools or service providers, as well as family members and neighbors.
- Make sure everyone in your family has a copy of the plan and there is a copy in your home
- Create a list of responsibilities for each person in your family
- Review and practice the plan
- Identify a place you can safely warm up should you lose heat in your home
- Check on friends, neighbors, and relatives, particularly if they are elderly or live alone
- Have a destination in mind before leaving
- Dress appropriately for weather conditions
Shelter in Place
- Choose to stay a room with as few windows as possible
- Close off unused rooms and stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
- Cover windows at night
- Wear enough clothing to remain warm, but avoid sweating
- Listen to a local radio or television station for updated emergency information
- Eat and drink water regularly
Vehicle Winter Emergency Kit Suggestions
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Rain gear
- Extra sets of dry clothing
- Hats and mittens/gloves
- High-energy snacks
- Phone charger
- Sand or kitty litter
- Windshield scraper
- Chains or rope
- Tire chains
- Jumper cables
- Emergency flares
- First aid kit
- Spare tire(s)
- Listen to weather reports for your area and areas you’ll be traveling through.
- Let someone know the route you will be taking, your destination and expected arrival time.
- Look for sleet, freezing rain or drizzle which can create icy conditions.
- Accelerate slowly and give yourself room to stop.
- Do not use cruise control in wintry conditions.
- Don’t crowd snow plows.
- Consider alternate traveling plans or cancelling your trip.
- Do not leave your vehicle unless help is visible.
- Display a trouble sign or indication you require help.
- Run the vehicle and use the heater occasionally, 10 minutes each hour. Also, turn on vehicle’s lights while the vehicle is running to create more visibility.
- Keep your vehicle’s exhaust pipe clear.
- Lightly exercise and try to keep from remaining motionless.
- If there is more than one person in the vehicle, take turns sleeping.
- If there is more than one person in the vehicle, huddle together for warmth.
- Keep hydrated.
- Avoid overexertion.
Winterize Your Home
- Insulate pipes, walls, attics
- Caulking and weather-stripping doors and inserting storm windows or covering windows with plastic
- Know where your water valves are in the event of a burst pipe
- Hire a contractor to check ability of your roof to sustain weight from snow/ice
- Clear rain gutters
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected annually
- Install carbon monoxide detectors in central location of every floor of your house, as well as near sleeping areas
- Have someone check on your animals if you are unable to be at home for an extended time.
- Have registration/adoption papers and vaccinations handy
- Consider microchipping your pet and enrolling him or her in a recovery database
- Keep at least 3 days of pet-specific food and water per pet
- Some melting salts can be harmful to your pet's feet or if it is ingested
- Make sure your space heater has an automatic shut-off. If it tips over, it shuts off.
- Keep wood stove doors closed except for when adding wood/pellets or stoking the fire.
- Keep snow and ice 3 feet away from fire hydrants.
- Symptoms include numbness and white or gray-yellow skin that may feel firm or waxy
- Do not rub the damaged area
- Remove rings, watches or jewelry, etc.
- Cover exposed skin
- Rewarm frostbitten areas with warm, not hot, water
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible
- Once inside, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes as this can cause more damage
- Symptoms include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness
- Warm the body from the center
- Remove wet clothes
- Wrap the individual in blankets or put on dry clothing
Summer in North Dakota means a variety of outdoor activities and plenty of fun to be had. But there are also many opportunities to incur injuries. This summer, remember to be safe when participating in activities and to be aware of the dangers around you, and or your family.
Skin cancer is the United States' most common cancer. Use the above UV Index widget to see information for any geographic location. Each year, more new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. than new cases of breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer combined. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. One American dies from skin cancer every hour. Unprotected exposure to UV radiation is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer.
UV Safety Resources
- CDC - Sun Safety Tips
- CDC - Sunburn Treatment
- CDC - Sunscreen: How To Select, Apply, and Use It Correctly
- CDC - UV Radiation Safety Tips
The first way to combat the heat is to be aware of the temperatures. By following information disseminated by the National Weather Service, you will know if you are facing heat, heat combined with humidity, etc. One of the best things you can do to stay safe in the heat is stay hydrated.
During the summer, the temperature in a vehicle can rise up to 20 degrees in 10 minutes and become dangers for people or pets. Even a vehicle with the windows rolled down can be deadly. Heat-related vehicle deaths are preventable.
Heat Related Illness Resources
- CDC - Extreme Heat
- CDC - Prevent Heat-Related Illness
- CDC - Protect Vulnerable Groups from Extreme Heat
- NSC - Learn How to Avoid Heat-Related Illness and Death
- Ready.gov - Extreme Heat Safety
Being outdoors more often likely means being confronted by Mother Nature at some point. While summer storms differ in dangers from winter storms, the danger can be deadly. Use the following terminology to understand the potential weather you may be facing and to stay alive during subsequent weather events:
- Cloudburst – A sudden, intense rain that normally lasts just a short duration.
- Cloudy – Clouds covering more than 60 percent of the sky.
- Flood – Water overflows the confines of a stream or river; water accumulates by drainage over low-lying areas.
- Hail – Precipitation in the form of balls or lumps of ice. The precipitation freezes and is coated by layers of ice as it is lifted and cooled in strong updrafts of thunderstorms.
- Heat Index – Index combining air temperature and humidity to give it an apparent temperature (how hot it feels).
- Heat Lightning – Lightning that can be seen, but is too far away for thunder to be heard.
- Humidity – The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere.
- Rain – Liquid water droplets that fall from the atmosphere, having diameters greater than drizzle (0.5 mm).
- Severe Thunderstorms – Storms that are capable of producing hail that is an inch or larger, or wind gusts over 58 mph.
- Tornado – A violent rotating column of air, in contact with the ground, pendant from the cumulonimbus cloud. A tornado does not require the visible presence of a funnel cloud. It has a typical width of tens to hundreds of meters and a lifespan of minutes to hours.
- Warning – Issued for significant weather events.
- Watch – Issued when conditions are favorable for severe weather.
Severe Storms Resources
- CDC - Lightning Safety
- CDC - Natural Disasters and Severe Weather
- CDC - Tornado Safety
- NWS - What To Do Before Severe Weather
- NWS - What To Do During Severe Weather
- NWS - What To Do After Severe Weather
Whether swimming, boating, skiing, using a personal watercraft, or fishing, water provides limitless ways to have a memorable day. Make sure you are safe on the water to ensure it isn't memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Water Safety Resources
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 280 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the Independence Day holiday. More than 50 percent of these injuries occurred to individuals’ fingers and hands (31 percent) or head, face and ears (22 percent).
While fireworks safety tips can help to keep you more safe, it is important to remember there will always be a potential for harm with fireworks. The only way to assure your complete safety is to leave fireworks to the professionals.
- CDC - Protect Hearing When Around Fireworks
- CPSC - Fireworks Safety
- NFPA - Fireworks Safety
- NSC - Leave Fireworks to the Experts
Few images evoke Americana the way cooking meat on a grill in the summer does. When it comes to a family cookout, hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, kabobs, or a variety of other foods can make your summer event complete. But injury by fire, or damage to a home or similar structure, is also a possibility. Gas grills account for about 8,000 home fires per year, while charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved with 1,300 home fires each year.
Preparing for a Disaster
It is good to be prepared for disasters that may strike your area. Having an emergency supply kit will help in that preparation. (It is suggested to plan for three days). Some suggested items are:
Minimum of 3-Day Food/Water Supply
- Canned and non-perishable food
- Water - 1 gallon of water per day/per person
- Baby formula and supplies
- Manual can opener
- Utensils to prepare, serve, eat meals
- Plates and bowls
- Unscented liquid household chlorine bleach (label should say it contains 8.25% of sodium hypochlorite) to disinfect water, and for general cleaning/sanitizing.
- Minimum of 3-day supply of medicines and prescription medicine
- Medical Supplies (syringes, cane, hearing aids, extra batteries)
Personal Care Items
- Hand Sanitizer
- Toilet articles
- Containers for waste
- Baby wipes
- Filter masks or handkerchiefs
- Fire extinguisher
- First aid kit
- All Hazards Radio
- Radio (Battery-, solar-, or hand-crank powered)
- Cell phone chargers
- Insurance cards
- Immunization records
- Paperwork for any serious or on-going medical condition
- Family Emergency Plan (meeting location, contact info, directions for use, etc.)
- Duct tape and scissors
- Garbage bags or plastic
- Multipurpose tool (containing knife, file, pliers, screwdriver, etc.)
- Extra cash
- Map of area
- Extra car/house keys
- Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers, etc.)
- Stuffed animal
- Water (Cats and dogs generally need 1 gallon for three days)
- Pet food
- Bowls or bottles
- Litter box
- Paper towls
- Trash bags
- Manual can opener
- Pet first aid book
- Leash, harness or carrier
- Pet toys
- Medicine and medical records
- Photo and description of pet(s)
- Feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, veterinarian telephone number
Your pets are important members of your family. In the event of an emergency, you want to ensure they are taken care of. Leaving pets out of evacuation plans can put pets, owners and even first responders in danger.
- Prepare a disaster kit for your pet with these items
- Make sure your pet is wearing up to date tags
- Microchip your pet
- Keep a leash near a carrier or exit
- Use extra considerations for horses or farm livestock
In the event you need to stay in a hotel, finding a location that is pet friendly is key. Below are pet-friendly search tools for locations in North Dakota. Verify with the hotel prior to booking your reservation.
When Dealing with an Injured Animal
An injury or illness may cause any animal to act unpredictably. Be sure to examine any animal from a distance initially to determine if the animal is injured. Be sure to only interact with an animal if they are in a safe environment where unexpected motion will cause no injury.
- Practice safe handling of your pet -- never assume a pet won't bite or scratch
- Don't attempt to hug an injured pet
- Perform all contact slowly -- stop if your pet becomes agitated
- Wash your hands after dealing with a pet
- Get your pet to a veterinarian as quickly as possible without risking personal injury or illness
Pet Fire Safety
Pets may indirectly start fires around open flames. The American Kennel Club estimates that 500,000 pets are affected by home fires each year. Use the following tips to keep your pets and family safe:
- Extinguish open flames
- Remove knobs from stove
- Replace glass water bowls on wooden decks with metal or plastic
- Consider flameless candles for ambiance and backup lighting in the event of a power outage
- Secure pets when away from home
- Place fire alert window clings identifying the room your pets are located in
- Have a plan when you are home for who is responsible for each pet
Additional Video Resources
Disasters and emergencies can be scary, but the more prepared you are, the safer you will be and the easier it will be to act. By creating an emergency plan (for parents and for kids) and emergency kits, you will have the tools to be safe.
Remember to ask questions when working with your family. Answering questions and alleviating fears is easier now, than during an emergency.
- Tools for teachers
- Kit preparation
- Printable pages
- Variety of activities
- Emergency kit checklist
- Mobile App (story book, coloring book and activities)
- Books (focusing on a variety of individualized topics)
- Resources for providers and caregivers
- Printable resources
- Age appropriate materials for young people
- Practice what to do in an emergency
- Educational programs including: Prepare with Pedro, Pillowcase Project & Red Cross Kids' Videos
You spend a lot of hours at your place of employment. But are you prepared for when something goes wrong? If there was a disaster, would you have the resources available to survive and get home, where the bulk of your emergency preparedness should already be created? Business owners: If your employees were trapped at your building for an extended period of time, do they have the resources available to get home to their families?
It is important for employers to utilize a disaster plan or program, and for employees to tailor that plan to their individual needs through the contents of readiness kits. This emergency plan template is a solid starting point in developing your organization's own plan.
And, of course, once the plans have been written, and the resources created, communication with all aspects of the business/organization and practicing drills regularly could be the difference in loss of life during an emergency situation.
Are You Prepared?
Emergency preparedness should begin in the home of each citizen. In the event of an emergency, your survival may well be determined by the water you have stored, or the storm measures you have created with your family. Below are a number of resources that can help you and your family become more prepared:
- Create a Family Emergency Plan
- Assemble Your Readiness Kit
- Be Informed
- Practice, Practice, Practice
Residents of some counties have the option of receiving severe weather warnings by phone through the CodeRED Weather Warning alert system option. The CodeRED Community Notification System contacts residents and businesses by telephone to inform of certain events that may impact the safety of persons or protection of property. If your county utilizes this system, it can be personalized for your specific community, and utilizes a synthesized voice and an automatic dialing system to deliver the calls.
The option will call residents to warn them of tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and flash floods. Residents may specify which types of storm warning alerts they would like to receive.
Residents who have signed up for CodeRED in the past do NOT need to re-sign up every year, unless there has been a phone number or address change. If you no longer wish to receive notifications, you are responsible for notifying CodeRED of this change.
If you wish to be removed from WEATHER notifications, please call 1-800-566-9780.
The CodeRED Community Notification System is a best-effort notification and provides no guarantee that you will be notified during any system activation. The city or county utilizing the system reserves the right to change, update or discontinue this service, without notice. The decision to initiate a notification rests with individual cities and counties.
By entering and submitting information you are authorizing CenCom, on behalf of your city or county to contact you at this telephone number with information about emergencies and non-emergencies that may impact you or your property. You agree that the CodeRED Community Notification System is not a substitute or replacement for other avenues of notification and that you will not rely on it as such. You agree to waive any and all claims against your city or county and to hold the officers, employees, and agents of your city or county harmless for any and all personal injuries and/or damage to property that may occur as a result of your use of this service.
Be sure to like and follow Western Plains Public Health on Facebook. We provide a number of informational posts each week on a variety of topics, including emergency preparedness.
Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit
Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit is a comprehensive resource that offers strategies and provides tools that can help you (or the families you work with) move along the road towards financial recovery. The tools provided in this award-winning toolkit will help you (or the families you work with) make decisions that are best for your family.
Additional Video Resources
To report a public health emergency, please call 911, State Radio at (800) 472-2121 or contact your county's sheriff's office:
- Morton County - (701) 667-3330
- Grant County - (701) 622-3331
- Mercer County - (701) 745-3333
- Oliver County - (701) 794-3450
- Sioux County - (701) 854-3481
To report a communicable disease, please contact the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services locally at (701) 328-2378, toll free at (800) 472-2180 or online at www.ndhealth.gov/disease/reportcard. Read about the North Dakota Century Code regarding reportable diseases.
To report a spill, contact the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality by phone at (701) 328-5150, or by fax at (701) 328-5200. It may be beneficial to utilize the Emergency Response Guidebook.
Information regarding current emergencies can be viewed at ND Response.