Wednesday, October 19, 2011

AlertOC Doing Emergency Practice Drill - Are You In Contact?

AlertOC is doing a practice drill on Thursday so in events
like the 2007 Santiago wildfires, residents are updated with
the latest information - btw, that's someone's house in
Foothill Ranch! (image via OC Register)
With the blackouts and anniversary of 9/11 that happened awhile back, I started thinking about disaster preparedness and how vulnerable we can be when we're without power.

Maybe the County of Orange is thinking the same thing: I've been reading that on October 20th, AlertOC will be conducting a drill wherein registered occupants receive a phone call from the service asking them to register cell phones and email addresses. The goal is to have as many OC residents as possible have contact with the mass notification system so they have instructions of what to do in cases of emergency.

I was kinda sceptical when I first heard about, and I assumed I would magically be in their system. I also assumed they were going to sell my info and now my cellphone would be ringing with all the pre-recored messages I get on my landline. It seemed legit (I hope!) and it is run by the County of Orange, so I signed up. I also read that in the service's contract it is prohibited to sell or share any info to outside parties. And they employ "multiple physical and virtual layers of firewalls to maintain data security." Let's just hope it's not the same guys that other companies used and that said the same thing...Sony, I'm looking at you...

I kept thinking of the wildfires we had a couple years ago and how dependent people were on the being updated on evacuation notices via phone. The worst of the fire happened in the day while I was at work - if it had reached my house (and it was uncomfortably close) I think I would've liked being updated via text messages instead of wondering if I was going to get home to a pile of ashes.

I'm not endorsing the service, but I am throwing it out there for the paranoid like me who want to be updated via phone, text or email in case of large scale emergencies. Let's just hope we never have to use it!

To find out more or sign up, visit AlertOC.

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