Don’t miss this important step when signing up for county emergency alerts
Routt County Emergency Management officials are reminding residents that cell phone numbers are not automatically signed up for the county emergency alerts system that can warn residents in the case of fire, flooding and other timely situations.
The need for more Routt County residents to sign up for the emergency alerts system was one of the points stressed repeatedly during the public portion of the Routt County Wildfire Mitigation Conference on April 29.
“Cell phones do not automatically opt into Routt County Alerts,” said Alyssa Ingles, county emergency management specialist. “Landline and VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phones are automatically opted into Routt County Alerts, but we only receive an update yearly from phone providers.”
Since Routt County switched to Everbridge emergency alerts system in 2020, only 32% of the county population has gone online to sign up so far, Ingles said. County officials are pushing for 100% participation. Officials conducted the first countywide test of the Everbridge system at noon, Wednesday, May 3, so people who thought they were signed up but did not receive a notice are asked to check online at RouttCountyAlerts.com or to contact the emergency management office.
“Routt County Alerts is the quickest and easiest way to reach a large population to let them know of any emergency situation,” Ingles said.
The county department has conducted only limited area tests in the past but is planning biannual tests moving forward. Residents can currently opt in for alerts in English, Spanish, French and Polish, and the county can add additional languages in the future if needed.
Ingles noted that if residents receive wireless emergency alerts on their phones through the federal government system such as for Amber Alerts, that does not mean that phone line is signed up for the county emergency alerts. The federal and county systems are separate, and Routt County residents need to sign up for county alerts for their phones even if they already receive Amber Alerts.
The county system was used in April to notify residents in a specified area in Hayden that was directly impacted during recent flooding. The system signup allows residents to input if they need extra assistance due to medical reasons or lack of transportation.
“When the Hayden pre-evacuation alert went out, we had one person who had identified as having an access or function need in their profile, so responders were able to reach out to them and provide additional assistance,” Ingles said.
The Routt County Alerts system was used “effectively” for the Muddy Slide wildfire evacuation, the Morgan Creek wildfire pre-evacuation and the Rabbit Ears hazardous materials shelter-in-place order, Ingles said.
Signing up for emergency alerts gives residents more time to collect valuables in case of emergencies. County Emergency Operations Director David “Mo” DeMorat said past wildfire pre-evacuation orders have shown that the alert system may take five minutes to accomplish while door-to-door notifications require hours by personnel who are often needed elsewhere during emergencies.
Routt County Public Information Officer Amanda Shepherd said some cell phone users who did not receive an alert at noon Wednesday may need to check their alert settings on their personal device. On an iOS device, navigate to Settings, then Notifications, then Government Alerts to select the alerts to receive. On an Android device, navigate to Settings, then Notifications, then Wireless Emergency Alerts.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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