San Mateo County passes resolution to reach more people with emergency alerts

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The fires to the north and south of the Bay Area remind everyone of just how important it is to get up to the minute information, such as an alert to evacuate or which areas to avoid.  

On Tuesday, supervisors in San Mateo County passed a resolution so they can reach more people with their emergency alerts.

When San Mateo County officials wanted to warn residents about bad air quality last week, they sent out a text alert to those that opted into the program.

“We have approximated 760,000 residents in San Mateo County,” Emergency Services Coordinator Jeff Norris said.

The county has 72,000 cable, water, trash and energy providers.

That’s only about 10 percent, not enough if there’s a real emergency.

“If we can’t reach you, we can’t inform you if there’s an emergency in the community,” Norris said.

In September, the governor signed a bill allowing local governments to access residential contact information from public utilities like cable, trash, water and energy providers, so more residents could be notified during an emergency.

On Tuesday, San Mateo County became the first in the state to do adopt the protocol.

“And so we have updated emails, cell phone, and landlines, so we make sure we can hit the masses and that’s what we want to do in these events,” San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Canepa said.

The San Mateo Office of Emergency Services will collect the contact information over the next year, so when there is a real emergency, they can contact as many people as possible.

“As you know, what’s happening in Paradise and Malibu, these are tragedies, so at the end of the day, if we can get the most information and in a timely manner, we can save lives,” Canepa said.

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