Public Safety

Get the Call: Sign Up for Emergency Cellphone Alerts

Image Credit: City of Carlsbad

The County wants you to “get the call” in an emergency by making sure you have registered your cellphone to receive alerts from the county’s mass notification calling system.

Nearly one-half of American homes use only mobile phones and have dropped landlines, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control. The County is launching a Get the Call campaign to encourage residents who have not already registered their cellphones with AlertSanDiego to do so and possibly win a $5 gift card donated by Target.

The AlertSanDiego system operates similar to a reverse-911 service, which calls residents at their homes to notify them of an emergency that may include evacuations or other instructions. While home numbers automatically feed into the system, cell phones will be called only if they are registered. Cell phone registration is key to a safe and successful emergency home plan, particularly if you no longer have a landline, are working around your property or not at home when an emergency call comes on your home phone.

In the 2003 and 2007 firestorms… lives were lost. Being ready to evacuate quickly in an emergency could save your life.


Holly Crawford, director, County Office of Emergency Services

AlertSanDiego 300 x 600

Registering is a first and simple step in emergency preparedness for residents. The service is free and signups are available in English and Spanish. To encourage residents to take that first step in emergency preparation, the County Office of Emergency Services in partnership with Target is offering a $5 Target gift card to the first 1,000 new cell phone registrations, meaning people can’t re-register their cell phone if it’s already in the system. Only one gift card will be mailed per address. Register by visiting the AlertSanDiego page on the County’s emergency preparedness website

We’re approaching peak wildfire season. El Niño did little to reduce the fire risk, which is at a critical level due to a four-year drought. In the past weeks, there were two wildfires, the Pala Fire in the Rancho Heights community along Pala-Temecula Road and the Dove Creek Road Fire in 4S Ranch, which prompted resident evacuations.

“This could be the start to a dangerous stretch for both summer and fall just due to the conditions,” said CAL FIRE San Diego Unit and County Fire Chief Tony Mecham, also a unit chief for CAL FIRE. “This is why it is imperative that people reduce the fire risk on their properties by maintaining at least 100 feet of defensible space and that they have an emergency plan in case a fire takes hold and threatens their home.”

The Get the Call campaign also asks: “Could you evacuate in 15 minutes or less?” How prepared is your family if a fire broke out in the middle of the night and you got a phone call urging you to evacuate or a deputy or officer knocked on your door asking you to leave?

“In the 2003 and 2007 firestorms some residents had only minutes to get out of their homes. Tragically, in both fires, lives were lost. Being ready to evacuate quickly in an emergency could save your life,” said Holly Crawford, director of the County’s Office of Emergency Services. “In addition to registering for AlertSanDiego, which could be someone’s first notice of escalating danger, we ask residents to also download the County’s free SDEmergency App which allows residents to input an emergency plan and have it at their fingertips.”

Crawford adds that the app is available in English or Spanish and a free downloadable and printable family disaster plan template, in English, Spanish, Filipino, Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese are available on the preparedness web site for those who do not carry a smartphone.

Residents can also find information on what to pack for an evacuation, what emergency supplies to keep at home and how to reduce the fire risk around your home.


Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact