National Preparedness Month is officially underway! September is the month to prepare, plan, and most importantly, get informed! The first part of getting informed is, well, knowing how you’ll find out that there is actually an impending emergency. Will you be the last to hear if there’s an emergency in your area?
Automated Alert Systems (AAS)
There are two different types of AAS: email alerts and mobile alerts.
- Email Alerts: One way to get informed about what will happen when an emergency occurs, and to know where you will get this information, is through email alerts. Email Alerts are available from multiple providers. You can go to local or nationwide websites which provide email alerts, and simply submit your email address and zip code to sign up for free emergency or disaster alerts. Emergency Email is a website which offers free customizable email alerts, but there are many more out there – take a look around the Internet, and let us know if you find one that’s even better.
- Text Messages: Another type of Automated alerts is the Mobile Device alert. You can “sign up” for alerts online, so that when a certain kind of natural disaster or emergency occurs, an automated message will be sent to your mobile device, whether that is a cell phone, iPad, or smartphone.
There are many “unofficial” ways to find out about an emergency or disaster – I don’t watch TV, or subscribe to alerts, so I always hear about the earthquakes and weather issues through the grapevine. Some neighborhoods have community help lines, which check on other people who may need help during emergencies. Friends and family are also a great source of information – make a plan with your loved ones, to make sure that you’re calling to check on one-another in the event of an impending emergency.
- To get informed about these unofficial alerts, consider calling your local police department or fire department to see if they participate in door-to-door or personal contact emergency communications.
- Check to see if there are preparedness organizations in your area, which provide warning services, where they personally call or communicate an emergency when necessary. This way, you can put yourself on that call list and know that you will be informed in the case of an emergency.
Public Notification Systems
The following warning systems are probably the most common, and the easiest way to communicate a disaster or emergency to many people at once.
- Many small towns and even some medium-sized cities have a siren or bell that makes a very loud noise in the event of an emergency. Call your local sheriff or police department and ask to find out if there is an emergency warning system for your area.
- Most TV and radio stations also participate in emergency alert systems. (We’ve all heard them or heard about them: “We now interrupt your scheduled program with an alert about such-and-such emergency…”) If you consistently listen to or watch certain local radio or television programs, consider contacting those stations and asking them if they participate in emergency notification programs, so you can know for future reference that they will be a reliable source of emergency notification.
Get Informed as You Prepare
The most important part of National Preparedness Month is getting informed! So, call your local broadcasting stations, sign up for emergency alerts, and get ‘in the know,’ so you know what to expect when the unexpected happens!