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Keep these online resources handy in case of floods, fires, quakes and other disasters
Sometimes life is disrupted by natural phenomena: extreme weather conditions, flooding, earthquakes, and fires. Other times, it’s a problem in the civic fabric: power outages, pandemics or traffic-snarling accidents. In all these situations, San Joaquin County residents need to be prepared. In addition to having a “go bag” packed and ready, it’s just as important to load up your smartphone with all the digital resources you’ll need to stay informed.
San Joaquin County has partnered with Everbridge to implement a community notification system, SJReady Alerts, to keep residents informed about emergency events and other important public safety information. But to receive these alerts, residents must sign up and provide information on their preferred way to receive notifications. The system provides critical information for emergency situations such as severe weather, unexpected road closures, and evacuations of neighborhoods and buildings.
Launched in 2007, Nixle provides an “open communication forum” that connects more than 8,000 public safety agencies, municipalities, schools and other entities with members of the public. The notification service delivers texts, email and voice messages, as well as information through social media and the Nixle mobile app. Receive emails and text messages from local fire and law enforcement agencies that include public safety messages as well as emergency information. Text your ZIP code to 888777 to opt in for text messages or sign up online to receive email or text messages with alerts and advisories. And if you work in a different county, have a second home, or just want to stay apprised of emergency situations that may affect friends and relatives, you can sign up for alerts in other areas.
The Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act established Wireless Emergency Alerts in 2008 and it became operational in 2012. WEA is a national public safety system that allows customers with mobile devices to receive geographically targeted messages about imminent local threats. To activate WEA, make sure your cell phone is set up to accept emergency and public safety alerts. (According to the FCC, “Wireless service customers should check with their wireless service provider to find out if their cell phone or mobile device is WEA-capable. Not all wireless service providers offer WEA.”)
Another source of data is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio alert system. When the radio is properly programmed, the National Weather Service can remotely turn it on and send basic alerts for floods and wildfires. NOAA Weather Radio receivers come in a variety of sizes and styles in electronics stores or online; the cost ranges from $25 to $100. To learn more, watch this NOAA Weather Radio Set-Up Video on YouTube. San Joaquin County residents can tune their radio to Northern California NOAA Radio, broadcasting from Wolf Mountain in Nevada County at KEC57 and WWF67 (Frequency 162.550Mhz) and covering Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Stanislaus, Yolo, and Yuba counties.
Old-fashioned terrestrial radio and television stations also have an important role to play. The Emergency Alert System is a national public warning system that sends messages through broadcasters, satellite digital audio services, direct broadcast satellite providers, cable television systems, and cable systems, typically accompanied by a special warning tone. Radio station KVIN 920 AM will carry these notifications in San Joaquin County.
In an emergency, there’s no such thing as too much information. The following government agencies will be pumping out tweets and posts, so follow along.
San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services on NextDoor, Facebook, and X (Twitter)San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department on Facebook and X (Twitter)Escalon Police Department on FacebookLathrop Police Department on X (Twitter)Lodi Police Department on FacebookCity of Manteca on FacebookRipon Police Department on Facebook and X (Twitter)Stockton Fire Department on Facebook and X (Twitter)Stockton Police Department on Facebook and X (Twitter)Tracy Police Department on Facebook
When it comes to getting around in a disaster, California Local offers real-time assistance with our San Joaquin County Traffic & Transportation overview page. In addition to a highway map marked with incidents and alerts, the page features links to information on Caltrans roadwork, road closures, and transportation services.
Our San Joaquin County Weather page also has a map that shows locations of fire cameras and water level monitors. And when you click on “Resources,” you get quick links to more than a dozen sites that will provide information on a variety of hazardous situations.
Cal Fire, the statewide agency responsible for fighting California’s wildfires, offers tools that can be used via smartphone. Sign up for text alerts at Incidents.ReadyForWildfire.org. And if you’re on the move, bookmark Cal Fire’s statewide map of current fires at Fire.ca.gov/Incidents.
Fire and rain often come with another unwelcome side effect: power outages. To find out where the power is out and and how long it will be before the lights come back on, visit PG&E’s alerts page, which provides a map of current outage and future PSPS incidents. The site PrepareForPowerDown.com also offers information.
If you are a medically vulnerable Californian, during a power shutoff you can call (833) 284-3473 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to find resources in your area.
The Red Cross is a familiar player in disaster response, so it’s fitting that the organization has developed a free American Red Cross Emergency app that will show you which buildings are being used as shelters during a disaster along with other useful emergency info.
Not too long ago, earthquakes came without any warning. Now, it is possible to get a little notice, thanks to a couple of apps. The QuakeAlertUSA app, from Early Warning Labs—available for free on the Apple App and Google Play stores—works in California and Oregon. Data detected by sensors managed by the United States Geological Survey determine the location and size of a quake, and the Early Warning Labs cloud server calculates individual alerts. Learn more: EarlyWarningLabs.com/mobile-app.
From UC Berkeley, the MyShake app is a citizen science project to build a global earthquake early warning network. The app, which monitors sensors on participants’ smartphones, is free in the Apple App and Google Play stores. Alerts are only available in California, Oregon and Washington at present, but folks around the world can participate. Learn more: MyShake.berkeley.edu.
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