Public Urged Not to Disable Wireless Emergency Alerts

As San Diego enters peak fire season, residents are urged not to disable the technology

More than a month after an Amber Alert jolted San Diegans awake, county officials are asking local residents not to disable the technology.

It’s no secret the first incident using the new Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system was less than smooth sailing.

On Aug. 5, residents received more than one Amber Alert in connection with a double homicide and kidnapping from Boulevard, east of San Diego.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and Office of Emergency Services received complaints from residents about first activation of the federal alert system.

Under WEA, there are three kinds of alerts that can be sent. The president can send out an alert, local officials can issue emergency alerts and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children with the California Highway Patrol can issue Amber Alerts to report child abductions.

County officials are launching a public awareness campaign to let residents know they are working to perfect the system in San Diego County.

Director of San Diego County Office of Emergency Services Holly Crawford said the system enables them to reach people in a specific geographic area whether they be residents, tourists or simply traveling through.

She asked that as San Diego enters the peak fire season, residents not disable the technology.

“We will use this system judiciously and use it only when we feel it’s necessary to protect the lives and public safety here in San Diego County,” San Diego County Sheriff William Gore said.

If you’re unsure if you are able to receive the alerts, check with your carrier. Most mobile carriers offer lists of the devices that are WEA-enabled, Crawford said.

The alerts are free. There is no charge if you receive an emergency alert through the system.

There is no need to register to receive them and there is no tracking or recording of which mobile phones receive the message.

County officials will use WEA in addition to Reverse 911, Alert San Diego, Twitter and Facebook updates as well as Nixel updates to disseminate information in an emergency, Gore said.

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