How To Find Out About Fire Evacuations In Your Area
THIS STORY IS PART OF HOW TO L.A., OUR ONGOING SERIES OF PRACTICAL GUIDES FOR DAY-TO-DAY LIVING IN LOS ANGELES.
By Robert Garrova and Melissa Leu
When an emergency hits, it's hard to figure out where to turn for the best information. You can, of course, listen to your local public radio station (*wave*) or turn on your TV, but you'll probably also want alerts sent straight to you.
California will automatically send topline emergency alerts but you generally need to opt in for notifications from counties and cities.
For fires, there is no centralized system in Southern California. Each county in our region — Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino and Riverside — uses its own emergency alert system as well as social media to share the latest information.
Here's a breakdown of some of those systems, and how to opt in:
First things first, make sure your emergency alerts are turned on in your phone settings.
The California Office of Emergency Services already sends your cellphone emergency alerts through what's known as the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system. It's that loud vibrating noise that sometimes comes through in the middle of the night.
Changing your phone settings ensures that you get messages about all the biggies: presidential, Amber and imminent threat alerts. That last one covers information on severe man-made or natural disasters such as earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes and tornadoes.
Next, find your county and sign up:
LOS ANGELES COUNTY
You can sign up for a system called Alert L.A. County, which the county says "is used to contact county residents and businesses via recorded phone messages, text messages or e-mail messages in case of emergency." You can sign up here.
The L.A. County Fire Department also posts regular updates on its Twitter account.
The City of L.A. also has a mass notification system, NotifyLA. You can sign up here, or text READY to 888-777.
The Los Angeles Fire Department also puts regular updates on its Twitter account.
Ventura County's emergency alert system is called VC Alert.
VC Alert uses 911 databases from telephone companies, so most landlines will already be in the system. If you want to be contacted using your cellphone, work phone, email, fax, or instant messaging, sign up here.
Here are some additional resources for staying up-to-date with mandatory evacuations, shelters, road closures, and more:
- Check VCEmergency.com for the latest information. When fires are going on, this website is updated with the latest mandatory and voluntary evacuation areas.
- Social media accounts for staying up-to-date:
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY
You can sign up for Santa Barbara County's emergency alert system here.
You can also follow Santa Barbara County's Office of Emergency Management on Twitter.
Orange County uses AlertOC, "a mass notification system designed to keep ... residents and businesses informed of emergencies and certain community events." You can sign up here.
AlertOC uses 911 databases from telephone companies, so most landlines will already be in the system.
In San Bernardino County, the emergency alert system is called the Telephone Emergency Notification System (TENS). You can sign up here.
TENS uses 911 databases from telephone companies, so most landlines will already be in the system.
Riverside County uses a system called Alert RivCo to "alert Riverside County community members of urgent actions to take during disasters, such as earthquakes, wildfires, and floods." You can sign up here.
Alert RivCo uses 911 databases from telephone companies, so most landlines will already be in the system.
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office has a Reverse 911 alert system. You can sign up here.
Some cities also offer their own alert systems. Check your city's website to see if there is a local alert system available.
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