Responding to widespread criticism of its disaster response during the October 2017 wildfires, Sonoma County Emergency Management will hold two “emergency alert system” tests in the next few days, to study any gaps in the existing systems and make improvements for a safer, more prepared county.

“In a disaster, there are never too many ways to receive a life-saving alert, stated Sonoma County Board Chair James Gore. “These tests will demonstrate the full capabilities of our alert systems, so we can maximize our ability to reach you in an emergency.”

During the evening of Monday, Sept. 10, the Sonoma County Emergency Management will test the SoCoAlert system by placing a phone call to all SoCoAlert subscribers, and landlines. The alerts will be specific to the address provided when someone signs up for SoCoAlert. Sign up at SoCoAlert.com or call (866) 939-0911 to receive alerts.

On Wednesday, Sept. 12, between 10 a.m. and noon, Sonoma County will activate the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system and Emergency Alert System (EAS). Sonoma County will send Wireless Emergency Alerts to Healdsburg, Guerneville, Roseland, Glen Ellen/Kenwood, and Penngrove. The alert should display on all compatible mobile devices with a special tone and vibration, and a brief text notification.

In addition, a message will be broadcast on local television and radio, using the Emergency Alert System.

The two tests are slightly different in purpose, said Sonoma County Emergency Management. SoCoAlert is used in emergency situations only, and notifications are centered on taking actions to save lives and property.

But the county sends Wireless Emergency Alerts when there is an immediate threat to life and property. The messages are targeted to compatible mobile devices in specific geographic regions. While you do not need to sign up, your phone alert will only arrive if you have not disabled the notifications and have a compatible phone.

The Emergency Alert System is only activated for wide-spread emergencies because it can only be targeted to the whole county or Bay Area.

For more information, visit SoCoEmergency.org and sign up for SoCoAlerts at SoCoAlert.com.