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Last updated Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 - 08:28

About Alerts

PublicAlerts is an opt-in system that local Emergency Managers can use to send alerts to small, targeted areas. But there are other kinds of alert systems, and it's helpful to understand the differences. 

COMMON QUESTIONS

Why can't I just watch the news to get emergency info?

You can! But you won't get info as quickly. When an emergency occurs, alerts go out through the PublicAlerts systems first. Next, messages go out through social media, and then messages are broadcast on local television stations. Plus, the power might be out! Have multiple ways to Stay Informed.

I already receive Amber Alerts. Why should I sign up for PublicAlerts?

PublicAlerts is different. Amber Alerts are part of the federal Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system. The WEA sends alerts to cell phones in a large geographical area. Topics include a) missing children, b) extreme weather, and c) presidential alerts during a national emergency. Sometimes local emergency managers can't wait for the federal government to send a message out. And sometimes they want to target a smaller area. The PublicAlerts system allows them to quickly send messages to specific neighborhoods.

What kind of alerts might I receive?

Alerts can cover a range of topics, including: hazardous material spills, boil water notices, power outages, large fires or flooding, missing persons, police activity, terrorist incidents, major landslides, road or bridge closures, major traffic issues, public health emergencies, school closures, severe weather, volcanic eruptions, and other dangers. 

In addition to telling you what's happening, alerts can also tell you what to do and where to go for resources.

There was an emergency in my neighborhood. Why didn't I get a message from PublicAlerts?

PublicAlerts is one of many tools used by public safety professionals to warn the people to take safety action (such as to stay indoors or evacuate) in an emergency. The system is not used for all emergencies. When activated, the message only goes to residents in the area directly affected by the emergency. If you haven't already, you should login to your area's PublicAlerts system to create an account or make sure the information in your existing account is correct.

Will I still get emergency notifications if I don't sign up?

Most landline phone numbers are already included in the PublicAlerts system. But to receive alerts on your mobile phone or at an email address, you must register through the PublicAlerts website.

Are there other ways to receive emergency notifications?

Yes. PublicAlerts is only one of several methods of emergency communication used by city and county officials. They also use social media and traditional print (newspaper) and broadcast media (television). Emergency information is also sometimes shared through the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alert system when appropriate.

What if my phone number or email address changes?

The system is only as good as the information people provide. If your contact information changes, login to your account and update your information.

How reliable is PublicAlerts?

Every effort has been made to ensure reliability of PublicAlerts systems. But the delivery of alert messages relies on external phone and internet networks outside local control. Local authorities are working with service providers to increase the reliability of these notifications. Below are some examples of service limitations.

  • Email: Your ability to receive emails may be disrupted if the networks are damaged or at maximum capacity.
  • Text Messages: Most wireless carriers do not guarantee delivery of text messages. Check with your wireless service provider to learn whether outages and congestion may impact text messages from PublicAlerts.
  • Telephone: Phone service may be disrupted if your wired or wireless carrier is experiencing network congestion or outages, or if you have poor reception.
  • Website: The PublicAlerts website has been designed to handle high volumes of users with little or no impact on performance. However, you may not be able to access certain websites if your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is experiencing outages.
  • Twitter: Tweets may be delayed. Use the fewest number of characters necessary to deliver a message.

Who manages the PublicAlerts system?

Each county's emergency management office controls their own PublicAlerts system. Some cities manage their own system (including Tigard). This website is maintained by the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management on behalf of the region. Partner agencies contribute to content. 

Will my contact information be shared with others?

No. The information that you provide will be used only by the PublicAlerts system. We will never give or sell your contact or location information to any vendor or other organization.