Emergency Preparedness News and Announcements

Karst/Sinkholes/Caves

CODE: PLAIN SPEECH/TEXT

Defined

A karst landscape is one where permeable rock, primarily limestone, allows surface water (rain water, storm overflow) to quickly access ground water. For most Kentucky cities, ground water is the primary source of drinking water. Karst areas move water rapidly, without allowing for the natural filtration that occurs when the water moves more slowly over the surface and into the ground.

Immediate Action

  • The most damaging risk factor in karst regions is the contamination of ground water in rivers and streams. The surface water enters the river or streams by seeping quickly into the ground and taking with it fertilizers, pesticides, bacteria, pet waste, debris, sediment, and automobile products. Pouring chemicals down sewers, drains or onto the ground in a karst region is much the same as pouring contaminants into the water supply. A compromised water supply creates a significant risk to the continued operations of a long-term care facility.
  • A second potential risk in karst regions is the creation of sinkholes, similar to the one that formed in Bowling Green KY, in 2014, creating a massive hole inside the National Corvette Museum. Sinkholes result when water erodes the porous rock at the surface and the land collapses into the hole.

Common Staff Assignments

Inspect facility for potential fire. If warranted, evacuate using RACE system.

R Rescue Rescue/Evacuate persons in immediate danger.
A Alarm Pull nearest “pull station.” Announce “CODE RED” and fire location over loud speaker. Repeat the announcement.
C Confine Confine the fire by closing doors to isolate the fire and smoke.
E Extinguish Attempt to extinguish the fire only if the first three parts of the R.A.C.E. Procedure have been completed and the fire appears to be manageable.

Specific Staff Assignments

  1. Activate the Incident Command System (ICS). The most qualified staff member (in regard to the Incident Command System) on duty at the time will assume the Incident Commander position. If severity of incident warrants, then appoint other positions of ICS structure.
  2. Facility management staff report to the Incident Command Post for a briefing and instruction.
  3. Put out small fires quickly. If not handled by one extinguisher, or it is larger than a wastepaper basket, evacuate the building.
  4. Check on residents, staff and visitors. Check restrooms or vacant rooms for visitors or stranded residents.
  5. Take care of injured or trapped persons. Provide medical treatment as appropriate. Call 9-1-1 only for life-threatening emergencies.
  6. Turn off gas only if you smell gas or think it may be leaking. (Natural gas line cannot be turned on again except by the gas company.) Alert the local Fire Department.
  7. Be prepared for after-shocks and re-evaluate building safety after additional seismic activities.
  8. Help injured or trapped persons until emergency assistance arrives.
  9. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
  10. Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for latest emergency information.
  11. Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  12. Stay away from damaged areas
  13. Unless police, fire, or relief organizations have specifically requested your assistance, stay away from damaged areas. Return to the facility only when authorities say it is safe.
  14. Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.
  15. Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.
  16. Inspect utilities
  17. Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing/hissing noise, start evacuation procedures. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can.
  18. Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks, broken or frayed wires, or smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Begin evaluation procedures.
  19. Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap.
  20. Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage.

Preparing Ahead/Training

  1. When evaluating hazards in the facility-based assessment, consult Kentucky’s topographical maps to identify karst areas within the region.
    • If located in a karst region, communicate with county officials to understand the topography surrounding and beneath the facility and/or campus and the degree of risk
    • Explore means of creating porous parking areas to limit runoff when considering new construction
    • If located in a region with a high risk factor, include a strategy for evaluating the land surface on a regular basis
  2. According the Kentucky Geological Survey at the University of Kentucky:
    • About 55 percent of Kentucky is underlain by rocks that could develop karst terrain, given enough time.
    • About 38 percent of the state has at least some karst development recognizable on topographic maps, and 25 percent of the state is known to have well-developed karst features.
    Kentucky cities located on karst include:
    Inner Bluegrass Western Pennyroyal Eastern Pennyroyal
    Frankfort Bowling Green Monticello
    Georgetown Elizabethtown Mount Vernon
    Lawrenceburg Fort Knox Somerset
    Lexington Hopkinsville
    Louisville Munfordville
    Nicholasville Princeton
    Paris Russellville
    Winchester
    Versailles
  3. Detailed maps of Kentucky and counties most prone to damage due to karst landscape are included in the following sites:

See also

Boil Water Advisory, Earthquake, Evacuation, Fire Watch, Fire Warning, Severe Cold, Severe Heat, Tornado, Flood, Utility Outage