October is a busy month for those of us in emergency management. Wildfire season is at its peak, Loma Prieta’s anniversary is the 17th, and the third Thursday is our annual Great ShakeOut exercise. It was in this setting that a surprise shook up my thinking — a real alert for an earthquake most of us didn’t feel.
During this time of year, I tend to focus on wildfire season and preparing Piedmont for evacuations. Then last Wednesday, like most of you, I got an alert that an earthquake was imminent. At first, I thought it was a premature training alert for the Great ShakeOut. However, it was real and knocked me off my wildfire plans for the day as I and my colleagues around the region quickly got shaking with our earthquake procedures.
Fortunately, this temblor was relatively minor. But it was a stark reminder for me that you never know what California is going to throw at you. We could wake up tomorrow and be in the middle of a firestorm or an earthquake or a flood. Does it feel overwhelming? I get it. It is overwhelming. Every year I stare at my earthquake food and think “I should really go through and update that.”
I’ve always found that the best way — maybe the only way — to tackle an overwhelming task is to take it one step at a time. So over the next year or so, I’m going to help you break down getting prepared into simple, manageable steps. If you want to take on more, great! We have lots of resources for you HERE. For the rest of us, doing just one thing today is a step in the right direction.
What I’d really like you to do today is sign up for AC Alert. Unlike the automated notifications we got last week, AC Alerts are geotargeted local messages sent by Piedmont and Alameda County safety officials in response to specific events and delivered over phone, email, or text.
This is how we let you know that you need to start preparing to evacuate when wildfire threatens, where to go when the time comes, or what to do in the immediate aftermath of an earthquake.
You must sign up to get these messages. Please register for AC Alert HERE today.
After you’ve taken this one critical step, think about where else you might want to get alerts from. AC Alert is used throughout Alameda County, but other parts of the region have their own systems. If you send your kids to school in San Francisco, have relatives in the Contra Costa County, or work in the South Bay, it’s a good idea to get those alerts too.
You can find a map with sign-up links for all the alerting systems in the region HERE.
Don’t wait for another earthquake to shake up YOUR thinking. Take one simple step today.