In the case of an emergency such as flooding or forest fires, it’s important to have accurate information about the situation, including information about when to evacuate.
In the past, government agencies used tools such as radio, television and automated calls to landlines to reach households. These days, those methods are less reliable to reach many people.
Luckily, in the Portland area, the PublicAlerts system allows individuals to receive these types of notification through text, email or calls to cell phones.
Although landlines are automatically registered to public alert notifications, cell phone users must sign up at PublicAlerts.org. The service is available in 11 languages, and it has an additional feature that allows people to identify if they have special needs that might require assistance during a disaster or evacuation.
Supplying this information ahead of time allows emergency responders to deploy resources and personnel more efficiently.
PublicAlerts is likely to distribute the most accurate, location-specific information quickly. However, if cell phone networks are not working during or after a disaster, local radio and television intend to broadcast the most accurate information.
Pay attention to official announcements from official sources such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management.
In a major disaster like a Cascadia earthquake, the damage to power lines and cell phone towers makes it difficult to access information through television or the internet.
Each emergency kit should have a radio tuned to emergency frequencies in case the disaster is widespread enough to prevent other news from getting through. Make sure you have extra batteries for your radio if it doesn’t have a hand-crank for power.
Know where your nearest Basic Earthquake Emergency Communication Node (BEECN) is, since this is a place to get information if other sources are unavailable. For most Concordians, that’s in Alberta Park, but check for information on other nearby ones at PortlandOregon.gov/pbem/article/483656.
Planning how to get reliable information can save lives.
Erin E. Cooper is a marine biologist living in Woodlawn. She spends a lot of time thinking about disasters and has been a NET member for many years. Contact her at OceanListener@gmail. com.