September marks National Preparedness Month, reminding residents and businesses to prepare for the many hazards that threaten our daily lives and sense of normalcy – most often occurring in Southern California with little to no warning.
Consider the state’s historic drought, drawing ever-increasing concern from first responders due to the elevated wildfire danger, or this winter’s anticipated large-scale El Niño storms. Both wildfires and storm flooding occur rapidly, forcing evacuations and road closures to neighborhoods.
AlertOC, Orange County’s mass notification system, is a critical link for residents to immediately learn of any required actions, such as evacuating their homes during an imminent fire.
On Sept. 24, more than 2 million Orange County residents will receive a call to test AlertOC. The drill will replicate a large scale, multi-jurisdictional emergency requiring thousands of numbers to be called simultaneously across Orange County’s entire region. This is the sixth annual regional test of the system and will include 24 participating cities as well as the County’s unincorporated areas.
The distinctive feature of AlertOC is the ability to register more than one contact method at a specific address. Registrations of cell phone and alternate numbers dramatically increase the ability to reach the greatest number of community members within minutes. This enables landlines, cell phones and e-mail addresses to be incorporated into a single notification system.
Residents can do their part to prepare for emergencies by registering for AlertOC so that they can take part in the regional test.
For more information or to register alternate phone numbers or e-mail addresses, visit AlertOC.com.
Alert OC Commonly Asked Questions
1. What is AlertOC?
AlertOC is a mass notification system used by the County of Orange and participating OC cities to issue government related messages to residents and businesses. The system has the capacity to send thousands of messages within minutes via phone, email and text. Only authorized officials are allowed access to the system. Currently, all OC cities except Irvine use the AlertOC System.
2. Do I need to sign up to receive notifications?
AlertOC contains residential and commercial landline phone numbers of Orange County’s entire population. In accordance with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), landline numbers were acquired from AT&T and Verizon’s 911 telephone database. The information contained in the 911 database is confidential, proprietary and shall not be disclosed or used except by authorized personnel for the purpose of emergency notifications.
It is also important to be able to receive notifications by cell phone, text message or email, because you may not have access to a landline when the notification occurs. Sign-up for these additional notifications online by going to the www.alertoc.com web site and selecting the city or area in which you live and/or work from the map. Sign-up through mail by downloading a registration form and mailing it to the County of Orange at the address listed on the form or to the city address.
3. How does the AlertOC service work?
Authorized officials record a voice, email or text message that is then delivered quickly to individuals in the notification system.
4. What types of messages will be sent using the AlertOC service?
The system will be used only to disseminate messages pertaining to the health, safety or welfare of a community that is being affected by a perceived, imminent, or actual emergency event.
5. If I have provided more than one phone number, what number will be called?
If an emergency situation arises that requires a notification to be sent to multiple phone numbers, we will activate the system to place a simultaneous call to all of your numbers. For matters with less urgency, you may be notified at only one phone or by email or text.
6. Will the AlertOC system call numbers outside of Orange County’s area codes?
Yes. The area code does not impact whether or not a call is made.
7. Will the AlertOC system work if I have a call screening system on my phone?
There are several varieties of call screening devices which use differing protocols for screening. In general, the system has been found to work with these devices, however, some may require pre-programming to allow the County’s or city’s telephone number to pass through. We will be conducting periodic tests to assure that messages are being properly delivered to numbers in the notification database.
8. How do I change or delete the information I registered?
Registered information can be changed or deleted online from the AlertOC website. Once on the website, select the city in which you registered and then select the Edit/Delete Option. You must log into the system with the registered email address to make changes. If you did not register an email address, information can be changed or deleted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org