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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

PublicAlerts is different. Amber Alerts are part of the federal Wireless Emergency Alerts (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.

No. Some parts of Oregon, you can text your zip code to 888777 to sign up for emergency alerts. In the Portland Metro Area, we do not use that system. If you try it, it will accept your information but not work. The only way to sign up for PublicAlerts is to sign up through your County's registration website.

You can, but you won't get info as quickly. When an emergency occurs, alerts go out through the the WEA and/or PublicAlerts systems first. Next, messages go out through social media, and then messages are broadcast on local television stations. Also, the power might be out. It's a good idea to have multiple ways to Stay Informed.

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. 

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 who are registered for PublicAlerts in the area directly affected by the emergency.

Each county has a different PublicAlerts registration site. If you haven't already, you should visit your county's PublicAlerts system to create an account or make sure the information in your existing account is correct. If you live, work, and play in multiple counties, make sure to sign up in each county's system. 

If emergency managers are using the Wireless Emergency Alerts

 (WEA) system, they can send you alerts even if you haven't signed up. That is an opt-out system, and it is good for certain types of emergencies. 

If emergency managers are using PublicAlerts, you will only get emergency alerts if you're signed 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 (and keep your information current in) your county's PublicAlerts system.

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

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

Every effort has been made to ensure reliability of PublicAlerts systems. But the delivery of alert messages relies on external phone and internet networks that are outside emergency managers' 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: PublicAlerts.org is designed to handle high volumes of users with little or no impact on performance. However, you may not be able to access this or other 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.

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 and the Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization on behalf of the region. Partner agencies contribute to content. 

When you visit your county's PublicAlerts system, you may notice that you are directed away from www.PublicAlerts.org. Each county maintains their own PublicAlerts system. They contract with vendors to manage the data. Most counties in the Portland Metro Region use Everbridge. Some use CodeRED. So you will see those company's names in the URL while you are signing up. But we refer to all of these county systems as PublicAlerts. 

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