Oakmont: Sign up Now for New Emergency Alerts

Staff report

With memories of the October firestorm evacuation, Oakmonters are being urged starting this month to sign up for SoCoAlert, a new system designed to provide time-sensitive emergency notifications of future threats.

The county fire marshal’s office recommended that every resident sign up for SoCal Alert, which is to be used when authorities need to instruct people in specific areas to take actions such as shelter in place or evacuate.

“SoCoAlert will save lives during our next disaster,” OVA Board President Steve Spanier said in a statement. “We on the board urge all Oakmont residents to sign up for it as soon as possible.”

Residents are asked to register their address and select the methods by which they wish to be notified; home phone, text, mobile phone, work phone and/or email.

You may sign up online at www.SoCoAlert.com, or by telephone toll-free at 1-866-939-0911. Resident data will not be shared, the fire marshal’s office said.

People who have signed up for other services should also register for SoCoAlert, the fire marshal’s office said. Nixle, for example, provides announcements and news releases from the police, sheriff and city, but not urgent notices to take action, such as evacuate.

SoCoAlert replaces an old system which had limited ability to pinpoint areas for warnings. Lack of targeted warning capability contributed to confusion when fires burned on three sides of Oakmont in last October’s firestorms.

Evacuation was spotty at first, with residents alerted by various means including neighbors, some of whom were COPE leaders, and by police using loudspeakers on their cars. The community escaped with only two homes burned and no serious injuries, as firefighters stopped advancing flames across Highway 12 and in the hills on two other sides of Oakmont.

SoCoAlert is intended to provide fast, smooth notice in event of another emergency.