Mastodon East Canyon 22X Neighborhood Council: 1 Tip 4 U 2 B Safe

1 Tip 4 U 2 B Safe

A weekly tidbit to boost neighborhood safety & security

by Carol Van Steenberg

Goodness, Gracious, Great Apps for 

It’s mid-October.  We’ve just had a batch of 90-degree days, at least one with a strong hot wind. Just like in 1991, you may recall, if you were around then.

We were in San Francisco at a ’49-er game, in Candlestick Park. My husband’s 49-er cap, with a radio built into it, perched on his head as usual for games, earphone in ear, while our eyes watched the action on the field.  In the third quarter, we began seeing ashes floating over Candlestick, landing on our laps. What? The play-by-play coverage that only he heard shifted to breaking news. He turned to me, “We have to go home NOW. There’s a fire in the Oakland Hills.” We made it home safely, under eerie skies with road closures and ash raining down. 

Our neighborhood was fine. Still, we spent a frightening night, watching the glow of fire, prepared to leave. Only a bit of smoke damage impacted us directly. Nevertheless, the sadness over the loss of life and homes nearby is unforgettable.

In 2023 we’re older and wiser, thanks to many efforts. In 1991, we had no apps, for example. Even two years later, in 1993, the internet handled just 1% of information flowing through telecommunications networks. By 2007 that had increased to 97%. [Wikipedia Reference]

Today there’s terrific information available online and really useful apps to help us. Here are a few: 

The Oakland Wildfire Guide, by Brian Krans and Kate Darby Rauch, updated in August 2023, really does cover “everything you need to know about evacuation, preparation, air quality, power outages, protecting property, and more answers to your questions about wildfire season.”

You may want to bookmark it, share it, refer to it often!

Zonehaven went live in the East Bay in June 2023. This software program uses an algorithm to produce a digital evacuation map or real-time guide based on community zones.  The algorithm incorporates weather, traffic flows, street design, historical disaster data, geography and more.  During an emergency, more data flows into the map, showing risks over zones, such as the incident location, wind speeds and directions. You can download the free app, it’s called Genasys Protect (not Zonehaven), for your mobile device from the Apple App Store or Google Play. You also can your find your own zone here. Good to memorize. (Ours is OKL-E102.) 

AC Alert, Alameda County’s emergency warning system for life-threatening situations, such as an order to evacuate, allows you to receive alerts by all means available—text, email, phone calls and push alerts. You must register and can do that on the AC Alert website or download the Everbridge App. Non-emergency or advisory alerts such as Red Flag Warnings or traffic incidents go out only by email, social media and push alerts through the Everbridge app. 

Nixle, an alert system local police and fire departments use to send messages on crime, traffic, weather, and events, can be accessed by “opting in.” To opt in, text 888777 and follow the instructions.  AC Alert and Nixle messages may overlap, but warnings for life-threatening situations will come first via AC Alert.

4 Steps: Emergency Preparedness for All, a guide first prepared by The Center on Disability of the Public Health Institute in 2020 and updated in 2023, provides specific advice for people with disabilities. You can tailor it to your situation. You can download the 2020 version here.

One thing to remember about all these new resources is that they depend upon electricity. So have your batteries charged to use them as long as the servers have juice. 

Now I’m going back to creating my Fire Playlist. So far it has Jerry Lee Lewis (Great Balls of Fire), Bruce Springsteen (I’m on Fire), Pointer Sisters (Fire), The Rolling Stones (Play with Fire), and Billy Joel (We Didn’t Start the Fire). Any favorites for me to add? I think I’m stuck in 1991.