Where to Find Emergency Information in Santa Clara County

Keep these online resources handy in case of floods, fires, quakes and other disasters.

PUBLISHED OCT 1, 2023 6:02 P.M.
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Winter storms can lead to flooding in Santa Clara County’s creeks, such as this January 2022 incident on San Tomas Aquino Creek.

Winter storms can lead to flooding in Santa Clara County’s creeks, such as this January 2022 incident on San Tomas Aquino Creek.   Robert Enriquez   Shutterstock

Like any region of California, Silicon Valley is vulnerable to disasters, whether they come in the form of raging wildfires, overflowing creeks, rumbling mudslides or rocking faultlines. It’s a must to have a “go bag” packed and ready, but just as vital is to stay informed in any emergency. Fortunately, digital resources are just one touch away on our smartphones.

1. Alert SCC

AlertSCC is the official emergency alert and warning system used by the County of Santa Clara Office of Emergency Management, providing information on emergencies and disasters happening in your area. Alerts are sent directly to a mobile device, landline, and/or email. You decide how you want to receive alerts. Possible alerts include warnings of fire, earthquake, severe weather and crime, as well as instructions for what to do during a disaster. Information you provide to sign up for AlertSCC is confidential and can be deleted any time. Once you sign up, you can also add in addresses for your parents, children and friends so you can help them monitor alerts in their area.

2. Nixle

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.

3. Wireless Emergency Alerts

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.”)

4. NOAA Weather Radio

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. Santa Clara County residents can tune their NOAA radio to these channels: Callsign KHB49 (Frequency 162.400), Callsign WWF64 (Frequency 162.450), Callsign KDX54 (Frequency 162.500), and KEC49 (Frequency 162.550).

    5. Keeping Up on Social Media

    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.
    County of Santa Clara on Facebook, X (Twitter) and Instagram.
    Santa Clara County Public Health on Facebook and X (Twitter).
    Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department on Facebook and X (Twitter).
    San Jose Office of Emergency Management on Facebook.
    Gilroy Police Department on Twitter.
    Los Altos Police Department on Facebook.
    Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department on Facebook.
    Milpitas Police Department on
    Facebook and X (Twitter).
    Morgan Hill Police Department on Facebook.
    Mountain View Police Department on Facebook and X (Twitter).
    Palo Alto Police Department on Twitter.
    City of Palo Alto on NextDoor.
    Santa Clara Police Department on Facebook.
    Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety on
    X (Twitter).

    6. Radio and Television Broadcasts

    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 wireless cable systems, typically accompanied by a special warning tone. The following television stations will carry these notifications: KGO ABC7, KTVU Fox2, KNTV 11 NBC Bay Area, KPIX CBS 5, KICU TV 36, KQED 9 PBS, KSTS 48 Telemundo (Spanish), and KTSF 26.6 Viet Show TV (Vietnamese). Also listen for alerts on these radio stations: KCBS 740 AM, KGO 810 AM, KLIV 1590 AM, KQED 88.5FM, KSOL 98.9 FM (Spanish), and KSJX 1500 AM (Vietnamese).

    7. Roadmaps to Safety

    When it comes to getting around in a disaster, California Local offers real-time assistance with our Santa Clara 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. One of these is Santa Clara County’s Road Closures page, updated to show road closures, highway construction areas, and other obstacles to travel.

    Our Santa Clara 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.

    8. Know Your Zone

    Alerts can help you stay safe, but if evacuation orders are issued, you need to know where your house or workplace is located. Find your zone by viewing this map. And bookmark Aware.Zonehaven.com on your phone and computer so you can monitor conditions when you are traveling.

    9. Be Fire Aware

    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.

    10. Power Outage Maps

    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 Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) incidents. The site PrepareForPowerDown.com also offers information, and you can register by phone for PSPS alerts by calling (877) 9000-PGE or text ENROLL to 97633. 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.

    11. PulsePoint

    The city of San Jose’s Office of Emergency Management suggests the use of PulsePoint, a  free downloadable app that provides valuable information in an emergency, including the location of nearby AEDs (automated external defibrillators) and notification to people trained in CPR in the case of a medical emergency. Make sure to choose San José Fire Department (SJFD) on your settings.

    12. American Red Cross Emergency App

    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.

    13. The Shake of Things to Come

    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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