This is a continuation of our comprehensive series on emergency preparedness. Our aim is to help equip every neighbor to become more knowledgeable and to take practical measures in preparation for an emergency. This is proven to be crucial to the health and well-being of neighborhoods and communities. So we urge everyone to do their part. Be a good neighbor; be prepared™.
The safety and welfare of your loved ones and neighbors may depend on being well-informed of an emergency situation. FEMA and many communities offer an alert system with which every person should be familiar.
For a description of the national alert systems, go to this page at Ready.gov. For a description of your local and county emergency alerts systems, go to the respective website in your area.
If you own a cell phone that can receive emergency alerts, be sure to download the app or apps which enable you to receive both national and regional alerts. With some of them you can opt to have the emergency alerts sent via email.
Your community may be participating in the Nixle alert system by Everbridge. To opt in, all you need to do is send a text message as instructed on the homepage.
In addition to these alerts, law enforcement or an emergency response crew may alert you by megaphone or other means of an emergency situation in your area. This typically happens if a wildfire is approaching. There also may be a local audible signal, usually a loud horn, that signals an emergency situation. Some people like to sleep with earplugs or earmuffs on. If you are one, then be sure to take into consideration that this may prevent you from hearing emergency alerts.
However, sometimes emergency alerts may not go out in a timely manner. In October of 2017, the deadliest cluster of wildfires in California ravaged the scenic wine country in the northern part of the state resulting in dozens of deaths, hundreds of injuries, and tens of thousands of homes and businesses destroyed or damaged.
Even before all of the fires were contained, at least one local sheriff was asked why an emergency evacuation order was not issued via text message in his county as it was in another county. He reported that they did not issue the alert because they feared panic and traffic congestion which could have resulted in more injuries and death.
This incident underscores how important it is for you to be aware of your surroundings and to be prepared for an evacuation even if it is not ordered by local authorities.
Still, it’s wise to arrange to have emergency alerts sent to your cell phone or computer, so we encourage you to do this.
After completing this step, you’re ready to move on to the next step in emergency preparedness which we’ll cover in our next report. Here is a link to our introductory report that lists Things To-Do Before a Disaster.