National Preparedness Month

Brian Schaeffer, Assistant Chief, 509.625.7002

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 10:05 a.m.

September is National Preparedness Month and several Spokane public safety agencies are joining forces to help residents become heroes in the face of an emergency. Throughout the month, agencies across the region will help community members identify resources and information in Spokane County that will be helpful before, during, and after an emergency. A resident becomes a hero in an emergency when they can turn awareness about an unfolding event into action.

There are two resources locally that can provide important emergency alerts to residents:

  1. Spokane's emergency notification system, ALERT Spokane, is able to send emergency messages via telephone, cellular phone, voice over internet protocol (like Comcast or Vonage), or email to residents and businesses located within Spokane County. ALERT Spokane may be used by emergency response personnel to notify specific homes and businesses at risk with particular information about an emergency in their area. Residents are only alerted when the associated address will be impacted by an emergency. Landline phone numbers, both listed and unlisted, automatically receive alerts. Residents can register any other devices at ALERT Spokane.
  2. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), is offered nationwide and is equally important for residents to keep informed of emergencies, as well as weather events, which locally could include flash floods, dust storms, extreme wind warnings, blizzards, and ice storms. WEAs can also be Amber Alerts, which, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, have helped save the lives of 656 children nationwide.

WEAs are sent by authorized government officials alerting authorities through mobile carriers. Most phones are WEA-capable. This service is offered for free by wireless carriers and WEA messages do not count toward texting limits on a wireless plan. If a resident is unsure whether these alerts are activated for their phone, they should check with their cell phone provider. WEA's real-time delivery can help residents and their loved ones stay safe during an emergency, without the need to download an app or subscribe to a service. These alerts look like a text message and show the type and time of the alert, any action a resident should take, and the agency issuing the alert, even if a resident is traveling outside the county. The alert sounds with a special tone and vibration, both repeated twice. Other sources of emergency information include NOAA weather radios, which can be purchased at many retail outlets or online; news broadcasts; and the Emergency Alert System, a national warning system that broadcasts its messages through all radio and television broadcasters.

Being a hero in an emergency starts with being informed, but also involves being prepared to be self-reliant. A disaster could leave a resident without utilities, electricity, water service, access to a supermarket or local services, or response from police, fire or rescue. Residents should make a plan for what to do in an emergency, as well as building an emergency supply kit to survive for 72 hours.

National Preparedness Month, now in its ninth year, is a nationwide, month-long effort, hosted by the Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps. For more information about the event, go to For local emergency preparedness info visit either the Spokane Emergency Management website or follow them on twitter.