Emergency Alerts

Integrated Public Alert and Warning System

Organized by FEMA, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) is the Nation’s alert and warning infrastructure. It provides an effective way to alert and warn the public about emergencies using the Emergency Alert System (EAS), Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, and other public alerting systems from a single interface. IPAWS is used to send notifications for three alert categories— Presidential, AMBER, and Imminent Threat.

Wireless Emergency Alerts

During an emergency, alert and warning officials need to provide the public with life-saving information quickly. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs), made available through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) infrastructure, are just one of the ways public safety officials can quickly and effectively alert and warn the public about serious emergencies.

What you need to know about WEAs:

  • WEAs can be sent by state and local public safety officials, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the President of the United States
  • WEAs can be issued for three alert categories – imminent threat, AMBER, and presidential
  • WEAs look like text messages, but are designed to get your attention and alert you with a unique sound and vibration, both repeated twice
  • WEAs are no more than 90 characters, and will include the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, as well as the agency issuing the alert
  • WEAs are not affected by network congestion and will not disrupt texts, calls, or data sessions that are in progress
  • Mobile users are not charged for receiving WEAs and there is no need to subscribe
  • To ensure your device is WEA-capable, check with your service provider

Emergency Alert System

  • The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), is a modernization and integration of the nation’s existing and future alert and warning systems, technologies, and infrastructure.
  • The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, satellite digital audio service and direct broadcast satellite providers, cable television systems, and wireless cable systems to provide the President with a communications capability to address the American people within 10 minutes during a national emergency.
  • EAS may also be used by state and local authorities, in cooperation with the broadcast community, to deliver important emergency information, such as weather information, imminent threats, AMBER alerts, and local incident information targeted to specific areas.
  • The President has sole responsibility for determining when the national-level EAS will be activated. FEMA is responsible for national-level EAS tests and exercises.
  • EAS is also used when all other means of alerting the public are unavailable, providing an added layer of resiliency to the suite of available emergency communication tools.

NOAA Weather Radio

NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information from the nearest National Weather Service office.

  • NWR broadcasts official warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • It also broadcasts alerts of non-weather emergencies such as national security, natural, environmental, and public safety through the Emergency Alert System.

For more information on government alerts program visit:

www.ready.gov/alerts

VC Alert Program

Ventura County has implemented a state-of-the-art emergency notification system to alert residents about emergencies and other important community news. The emergency notification system enables officials to provide essential information quickly when there is a threat to the health or safety of residents.

To sign up visit the link below.

http://www.readyventuracounty.org

Cybersecurity

 

Stop. Think. Connect.

Department of Homeland Security created an ongoing cybersecurity awareness campaign – Stop.Think.Connect. – to help Americans understand cybersecurity and safety online. Stop.Think.Connect. challenges Americans to be more vigilant about practicing safe online habits and encourages them to view Internet safety as a shared responsibility at home, in the workplace, and in our communities.

Follow the links below to review information that prepares us to recognize and avoid cyber crime. These links are provided by the Department of Homeland Security and contain important tips for being safe online.

Stop. Think. Connect Toolkit Page

Reporting Cybercrime

Parent Resources

Mobile Payments and Banking

Identity Theft and Internet Scams

 

 

Emergency Financial Preparedness

 

View in FEMA Multimedia Library

Preparing Financially for a Disaster

If a disaster or other emergency strikes your community, you may only have seconds or minutes to react. In those critical moments, your focus will be on your family’s safety. Once the immediate danger has passed, having your homeowners or renters insurance policy, bank account information, and other household records and contacts will be essential as you begin the recovery process. The Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) can help you be ready.

Access links below for more information regarding financial preparedness

The Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK)

Ready.gov/Financial Preparedness

 Disasters in September

USGS (United States Geological Survey) lists 14 significant earthquakes world wide in the last 30 day ranging from 4.3 to 7.1 in magnitude.

In the Mexico City earth quake of  7.1 magnitude on September 19 ,

  1. A total of 38 buildings in the Mexican capital – mostly apartment blocks or office buildings – collapsed.
  2. Thousands more have been left homeless because their houses or apartment buildings are deemed uninhabitable.
  3. Nearly 17,000 people have been “attended to” at 48 shelters. Many are bunking with family or friends.

 Disaster Assistance

Information regarding Federal Disaster Assistance can be found at the fema.gov website. A brief statement from the website includes the following:

Disaster assistance “ It is meant to help you with critical expenses that cannot be covered in other ways. This assistance is not intended to restore your damaged property to its condition before the disaster. Most disaster assistance from the Federal government is provided in the form of loans administered by the Small Business Administration.

Earthquake Insurance

In developing your Emergency Financial Preparedness Plan having earthquake insurance may be right for you. You can go to Earthquake Authority’s website to calculate the cost of earthquake insurance to see if it makes sense.

https://www.earthquakeauthority.com/california-earthquake-insurance-policies/earthquake-insurance-premium-calculator

To get an understanding of earthquake insurance in California and to find out what it will and will not cover, go to California Department of Insurance website:

https://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/105-type/95-guides/03-res/eq-ins.cfm

 

September – National Preparedness Month

Disasters don’t plan ahead. YOU CAN.

September is National Preparedness Month.  An outline of important themes and action items have been prepared by FEMA to help individuals and families prepare for disasters that may occur in their area. Please review the various themes and find one that you feel you need to work on. If you haven’t created your basic family plan, that is a good place to start. Follow the link below to go to ready.gov to find the information for National Preparedness Month or review the outline below and click through to find specific information.

ready.gov

 

Week 1:  September 1-9

Make a Plan for Yourself, Family and Friends

Week 2:  September 10-16

Plan to Help Your Neighbor and Community

Week 3:  September 17-23

Practice and Build Out Your Plans

  • Complete an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK)
  • Maintain emergency savings for use in case of an emergency
  • Participate in an emergency drill
  • Know how to access community resources (e.g., shelters, food banks)

Week 4: September 24-30
Get Involved! Be a Part of Something Larger 

 

Caring for Pets in a Disaster

For more tips on how to prepare your kit, Ready.gov has a section with more information:

Caring for Animals

Following a disaster, familiar scents and landmarks may be altered.  Pets may become confused and lost, so it is critical to maintain close contact with and leash pets when they go outside.  Also, snakes and other potentially dangerous animals displaced by the disaster may have migrated into the area (especially after flooding).  In addition, downed power lines can also be a hazard for people and their pets.  Be aware of your surroundings and protect your pet(s) and yourself.

Similar to children and adults, disaster-related stress may change a pet’s behavior. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive.  Watch your animals closely, and be cautious around other animals – even pets you know.  If you evacuate, take your pets with you!

Contact local emergency management for information regarding availability of emergency shelters for pets.  However, if you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take, but remember that leaving your pet(s) at home alone can place your animal(s) in great danger! Confine your pet(s) to a safe area inside - NEVER leave your pet(s) chained outside!  Leave them loose inside your home with food and plenty of water.

 

Build a Kit for Your Pets

Include basic survival items and items to keep your pet happy and comfortable. Start with this list, or download Preparing Makes Sense for Pet Owners-Emergency Preparedness Pet Kit List (PDF)   to find out exactly what items your pet needs to be Ready.

  • Food. At least a three day supply in an airtight, waterproof container.
  • Water. At least three days of water specifically for your pets.
  • Medicines and medical records.
  • Important documents. Registration information, adoption papers and vaccination documents. Talk to your veterinarian about microchipping and enrolling your pet in a recovery database.
  • First aid kit. Cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Including a pet first aid reference book is a good idea too.
  • Collar or harness with ID tag, rabies tag and a leash.
  • Crate or pet carrier. Have a sturdy, safe crate or carrier in case you need to evacuate. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.
  • Sanitation. Pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach.
  • A picture of you and your pet together. If you become separated, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you. Add species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
  • Familiar items. Familiar items, such as treats, toys and bedding can help reduce stress for your pet.

Evacuating Yourself and Your Family in a Disaster

 

There may be conditions under which you will decide to get away or there may be situations when you are ordered to leave. Follow these guidelines for evacuation:

  • Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood. Use the Family Emergency Plan to decide these locations before a disaster.
  • If you have a car, keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely. Keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.
  • Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency.
  • Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
  • Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.
  • Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into flooded areas.
  • If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to. Make arrangements with family, friends or your local government.
  • Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
  • Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.
  • Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency.

Protecting Important Documents in an Emergency

 

When disaster strikes, your immediate concern will be your safety and the safety of those you care about. Once the immediate danger passes, however, having your financial and medical records and important contact information will be crucial to help you start the recovery process quickly.

Taking time now to safeguard these critical documents will give you peace of mind, ensure you have access to essential medical and prescription information, and help you avoid additional stress during the difficult days following a disaster.

In addition, take the time now to think about the priceless personal items you would want to protect from damage or take with you if you had to suddenly evacuate your home. The first step is to take an inventory of your household documents, contacts, and valuables.

The checklist below will get you started. Then download the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) at www.ready.gov/financialpreparedness

Click this link for an action checklist to safeguard and protect important documents

https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1395861094548-8b4300b082ced42be701c089ce1640b3/Americas_PrepareAthon_Safeguarding_Valuables_508.pdf

 

 

 

Family Communication Plan

 

 

Prepare your family with a Family Communication Plan!

The information below can be downloaded as a PDF file using the link below. Family Communication Plan information can be filled out and a copy given to each member of the household.   Family_Comm_Plan_508_20150820

 

“What if something happens and I’m not with my family?” “Will I be able to reach them?” “How will I know they are safe?” “How can I let them know I’m OK?” During a disaster, you will need to send and receive information from your family.

Communication networks, such as mobile phones and computers, could be unreliable during disasters, and electricity could be disrupted. Planning in advance will help ensure that all the members of your household—including children and people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs, as well as outside caregivers—know how to reach each other and where to meet up in an emergency. Planning starts with three easy steps:

1. COLLECT.Create a paper copy of the contact information for your family and other important people/offices, such as medical facilities, doctors, schools, or service providers.

2. SHARE.
Make sure everyone carries a copy in his or her backpack, purse, or
wallet. If you complete your Family Emergency Communication Plan online
at ready.gov/make-a-plan, you can print it onto a wallet-sized card. You
should also post a copy in a central location in your home such as your refrigerator or family bulletin board.

3. PRACTICE.
Have regular household meetings to review and practice your plan

TEXT IS BEST!


If you are using a mobile phone, a text message may get through when a phone call will not. This is because a text message requires far less bandwidth than a phone call. Text messages may also save and then send automatically as soon as capacity becomes available.

 

The following sections will guide you through the process to create and practice your

 

HOUSEHOLD  INFORMATION

Write down phone numbers and email addresses for everyone in your household. Having this important information written down will help you reconnect with others  in case you don’t have your mobile device or computer with you or if the battery runs down. If you have a household member(s) who is Deaf or hard of hearing, or who has a speech disability and uses traditional or video relay service (VRS), include information on how to connect through relay services on a landline phone, mobile device, or computer.

 

SCHOOL, CHILDCARE, CAREGIVER, AND WORKPLACE EMERGENCY PLANS

Because a disaster can strike during school or work hours, you need to know their emergency response plans and how to stay informed. Discuss these plans with children, and let them know who could pick them up in an emergency. Make sure your household members with phones are signed up for alerts and warnings from their school, workplace, and/or local government. To find out more about how to sign up, see Be Smart. Know Your Alerts and Warnings at http://1.usa.gov/1BDloze. For children without mobile phones, make sure they know to follow instructions from a responsible adult, such as a teacher or principal.

 

OUT-OF-TOWN CONTACT

It is also important to identify someone outside of your community or State who   can act as a central point of contact to help your household reconnect. In a disaster, it may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town because local phone lines can be jammed.

 

EMERGENCY  MEETING PLACES

Decide on safe, familiar places where your family can go for protection or to reunite. Make sure these locations are accessible for household members with disabilities or access and functional needs. If you have pets or service animals, think about animal-friendly locations. Identify the following places:

 

Indoor: If you live in an area where tornadoes, hurricanes, or other high-wind storms can happen, make sure everyone knows where to go for protection.  This could be a small, interior, windowless room, such as a closet or bathroom, on the lowest level of a sturdy building, or a tornado safe room or storm shelter.

In your neighborhood: This is a place in your neighborhood where your household members will meet if there is a fire or other emergency and you need to leave your home. The meeting place could be a big tree, a mailbox at the end of the driveway, or a neighbor’s house.

Outside of your neighborhood: This is a place where your family will meet if a disaster happens when you’re not at home and you can’t get back to your home. This could be a library, community center, house of worship, or family friend’s home.

Outside of your town or city: Having an out-of-town meeting place can help you reunite if a disaster happens and:

  • You cannot get home or to your out-of-neighborhood meeting place; or
  • Your family is not together and your community is instructed to evacuate the area.

This meeting place could be the home of a relative or family friend. Make sure everyone knows the address of the meeting place and discuss ways you would get there.

 

OTHER IMPORTANT NUMBERS AND INFORMATION

You should also write down phone numbers for emergency services, utilities, service providers, medical providers, veterinarians, insurance companies, and other services.

Make copies of your Family Emergency Communication Plan for each member of the household to carry in his or her wallet, backpack, or purse. Post a copy in a central place at home. Regularly check to make sure your household members are carrying their plan with them.

Enter household and emergency contact information into all household members’ mobile phones or devices.

Store at least one emergency contact under the name “In Case of Emergency” or “ICE” for all mobile phones and devices. This will help someone identify your emergency contact if needed. Inform your emergency contact of any medical issues or other requirements you may have.

Create a group list on all mobile phones and devices of the people you would need to communicate with if there was an emergency or disaster.

Make sure all household members and your out-of-town contact know how to text if they have a mobile phone or device, or know alternative ways to communicate if they are unable to text.

Read Be Smart. Know Your Alerts and Warnings at http://1.usa.gov/1BDloze and sign up to receive emergency information.

Once you have completed your Family Emergency Communication Plan, made copies for all the members of your household, and discussed it, it’s time to practice!

Here are some ideas for practicing your plan:

Practice texting and calling. Have each person practice sending a text message or calling your out-of-town contact and sending a group text to your mobile phone group list.

Discuss what information you should send by text. You will want to let others know you are safe and where you are. Short messages like “I’m OK. At library”are good.                                                                                         3

Talk about who will be the lead person to send out information about the designated meeting place for the household.

Practice gathering all household members at your indoor and neighborhood emergency meeting places. Talk about how each person would get to the identified out-of-neighborhood and out-of-town meeting places. Discuss all modes of transportation, such as public transportation, rail, and para-transit for all family members, including people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.

Regularly have conversations with household members and friends about the plan, such as whom and how to text or call, and where to go.

To show why it’s important to keep phone numbers written down, challenge your household members to recite important phone numbers from memory— now ask them to think about doing this in the event of an emergency.

Make sure everyone, including children, knows how and when to call 911 for help. You should only call 911 when there is a life-threatening emergency.

Review, update, and practice your Family Emergency Communication Plan at least once a year, or whenever any of your information changes.

To help start the conversation or remind your family why you are taking steps to prepare and practice, you may want to watch the 4-minute video,

It Started Like Any Other Day, about families who have experienced disaster, at www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_omgt3MEBs. Click on the closed captioning (CC) icon on the lower right to turn on the captioning.

After you practice, talk about how it went. What worked well? What can be improved? What information, if any, needs to be updated? If you make updates, remember to print new copies of the plan for everyone.

 

OTHER IMPORTANT TIPS FOR COMMUNICATING IN  DISASTERS

Text is best when using a mobile phone, but if you make a phone call, keep it brief and convey only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family or household members. This will minimize network congestion, free up space on the network for emergency communications, and conserve battery power.

Wait 10 seconds before redialing a number. If you redial too quickly, the data from the handset to the cell sites do not have enough time to clear before you’ve re-sent the same data. This contributes to a clogged network.

Conserve your mobile phone battery by reducing the brightness of your screen, placing your phone in airplane mode, and closing apps you do not need. Limit watching videos and playing video games to help reduce network congestion.

Keep charged batteries, a car phone charger, and a solar charger available for backup power for your mobile phone, teletypewriters (TTYs), amplified phones, and caption phones. If you charge your phone in your car, be sure the car is in a well-ventilated area (e.g., not in a closed garage) to avoid life-threatening carbon monoxide poisoning.

 

 

 

First Aid Kits and Emergency Lighting

 

First Aid Kits

Listed below are basic components of a first aid kit suggested by the American Red Cross. The link below takes you to the Red Cross site where you can read more information regarding types of first aid kits. The video included above also lists important components for a first aid kit.

http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit/anatomy

 

Emergency Lighting

During a power outage, emergency lighting will become indispensable. Consider the following emergency as part of your emergency preparedness plan and kit.

Although lovely, candles are a poor choice in disasters due to fire and explosion hazards. The Red Cross recommends against the use of candles during blackouts because they are a major source of fires during outages. It’s better to rely on alternative forms of lighting than to risk creating an emergency on top of another emergency.

However, some people will use candles because it’s all they have, or because they run out of batteries for flashlights.  If you do use candles, use ones in a sturdy jar with a lid because they are less prone to being knocked over.  Be sure they are carefully supervised and never leave the room if a candle is burning! Don’t put them close to anything burnable (like blowing curtains), and place them on a non-burnable surface just in case they get bumped.  Don’t forget the need for a dependable way to light them (matches or lighters, stored out of the reach of children), and have a fire extinguisher nearby, just in case something does catch.

Kerosene and oil lamps are another option prone to accidents.  The flame is contained within the lantern so it’s a little safer than a candle’s open flame, and the amount of light provided is better than a single candle.  On the other hand, kerosene and lamp oil are highly poisonous, must be stored out of the reach of children, tend to get very hot, and need to be stored away from accidental ignition sources.  [We store ours in an insulated and latched picnic cooler, which helps protect them from ignition sources and contains any mess if they are broken in an earthquake.]

Propane lamps are another option, but like other liquid fuel lamps, are not recommended for indoor use because of the risk of carbon monoxide build-up.  They also need a good reserve of fuel if they are your choice for an emergency.

On the whole, LED battery-operated lanterns or flashlights are the safest choices for emergencies. Flashlights are better for finding your way around in the dark, while battery-operated lanterns are best for ambient room light.   The best models have both options built into one light.  There are expensive models, but there are also very reasonable models if budget is an issue.

Many stores also offer battery-operated candles that look like a regular candle but are safer.  These can be a great way to provide ambient low-level lighting for eating, family games, or a trip to the loo.  A mirror, aluminum foil, or a jug of water near a candle or lantern can amplify the light source without extra fuel consumption.

Headlamps are a great way to be able to provide focused, hands-free task lighting.  Most people don’t have these, but this is probably the best bed-side emergency lighting you can have.  That way, if a fire, earthquake or tornado happens, you have two free hands to crawl, move debris, administer first aid, or pick up your child as needed.

However, if flashlights, headlamps or lanterns are your plan for lighting without power, don’t forget to have plenty of extra batteries (of the right type!) on hand. You probably have enough for the short-term, but would you have enough for a longer outage?  Stores run out of batteries quickly in an emergency, so it’s best to have a decent stock at home beforehand, just in case.

Another great product is a nightlight/emergency light that is constantly charged by plugging into your hall’s electrical outlet.  These provide a nice low nightlight for everyday use, but automatically light up brightly if the power goes out.  Many models also have a flashlight option, making it even more useful in an emergency.  Think how hard it would be to escape the house in pitch black darkness after a disaster and how valuable automatic emergency lighting would be!

In a similar vein, there are lanterns and flashlights that you plug into the wall to keep charged.  Like the nightlight/emergency light, they are then are ready for use if the power goes out.

You can also purchase lights that are operated by crank or by shaking; they work by kinetic energy so you are not dependent on batteries.  These are great.

It’s good to have a combination of both battery-operated and hand-crank lights for maximum versatility.

 

 

Home Safety

Review the video below with your family

 

Red Cross Suggestions:

The Red Cross information below can be found at   http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/be-red-cross-ready/make-a-plan

Create Your Emergency Plan in Just 3 Steps

  1. With your family or household members, discuss how to prepare and respond to the types of emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play.
  2. Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and how you will work together as a team.
  3. Practice as many elements of your plan as possible.

Include Common Emergency Scenarios When You Plan

Plan for the emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live
Plan what to do in case you are separated during an emergency
Plan what to do if you have to evacuate
Plan for everyone in your home
Plan to let loved ones know you’re safe
emergency app icon

Find our Emergency App in the Apple Store or Google Play

Aplicación de Emergencias – ahora disponible en español también!

 

 

More Preparedness Resourses

 

Preparing for a Home Fire

 

The 7 Ways to Prepare for a Home Fire

  1. Install the right number of smoke alarms. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
  2. Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
  3. Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.
  4. Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.
  5. Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire“ to alert everyone that they must get out.
  6. Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
  7. Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.
Kids fill out a home fire escape plan
Home Fire Escape Plans

Unsure where to start? Use these guides to help begin your escape plan:

 

Develop Fire-Safe Habits

If you do nothing else:
  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.
  • Smoking materials are the leading cause of residential fire deaths in the United States. If you smoke, take precautions: Smoke outside; choose fire-safe cigarettes; never smoke in bed, when drowsy or medicated, or if anyone in the home is using oxygen.
  • Use deep, sturdy ashtrays and douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before disposal.
  • Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.
  • Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended, even for a minute.
Protect your home
Reduce fire risks in your home
Cook more safely