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Portland Bureau of Emergency Management

Readiness. Response. Recovery.

Phone: 503-823-4375

Fax: 503-823-3903

TDD: 503-823-3947

We asked for your input. Here's what we learned about emergency messages...

Highlights from the results of a survey and two community workshops asking how the public would respond to emergency alerts during a large-scale evacuation.

EvacuationEarlier this year, we asked for your feedback to help improve how the City of Portland issues emergency alerts in the rare event of a large-scale evacuation. We ending up hearing from 411 Portlanders through an online survey and two community workshops.

One of several tools we may use during an evacuation is the PublicAlerts system, which can send a message with an urgent safety warning to landline phones, mobile phones and email addresses. The one catch is that although the system already has most landline numbers, you must register your mobile phone and email address at www.publicalerts.org to get the alerts.

The survey and workshops asked how people may respond after being contacted by PublicAlerts. Here’s what we learned from the responses…

  • Most people (78%) would not answer a phone call from an unknown number.
  • About 50% would listen to a voice message from an unknown number right away.
  • Upon receiving an evacuation message on their landline, 56% would immediately leave the area. Over 44% would seek confirmation from another source, such as TV or radio, before evacuating.
  • Approximately 75% of those responding would immediately notice and check a text message.
  • Some indicated they wanted to know exactly how far they would need to evacuate, and whether or not they should bring their pets.

Here’s what we plan to do with the results…

  • Suggest anyone signing up at www.publicalerts.org save the number (503) 823-3947 in their mobile phone as “PublicAlerts.” By doing this, future alerts will no longer appear to be coming from an unknown number.
  • Continue to promote PublicAlerts registration, especially for mobile phones. Text messages tend to reach people much faster than messages going to landline phones, and are more likely to be read quickly.
  • Work with Portland’s public safety responders to develop common language to use when sending out a press release about an evacuation, especially regarding how far to evacuate and safety instructions for pets.

And here’s what you can do (if you haven’t already)…

  • Sign up at www.publicalerts.org to receive future emergency alert messages.
  • If you previously signed up for PublicAlerts, save the number (503) 823-3947 in your mobile phone.