The Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACOFD) distributed free National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios to Malibu residents at City Hall on Thursday, Aug. 18.
Los Angeles County Fire Department District 7 Community Service Liaison Megan Currier helped distribute the NOAA fire radio at Malibu City Hall and said they could be helpful during an emergency when there is no power or cell reception.
“We are handing these out to Malibu residents today, but we have been handing them out to residents throughout the Santa Monica Mountains,” Currier said. “These radios will alert people if there’s a major weather incident, and they’ll work without power or cell reception.”
Radios are often designed to run on minimal or renewable power sources, such as solar. They can broadcast useful information without the use of a cell phone tower. Unlike cellphones, weather radios don’t need to be recharged.
“This is a tool for alerts and notifications, we still want people to check all those other outlets, but this is just a kind of the last line of defense,” Currier said. “If the power goes out, especially in Malibu, cell reception is already an issue, and these will work without power or cell reception, so they really are important for people to have as a backup.”
Currier said NOAA weather radios are used on the East Coast and South for tornadoes, and they are trying to bring them to Southern California for wildfires.
As for communications with each department and agency, Currier said they make sure the information is correct before distributing it to the community.
“When an incident begins, with a fire or any type of incident that will affect multiple communities, I get the call from my chief, and I coordinate immediately with the Sheriff PIO, and we determine what our message will be,” Currier said. “I also get the information directly from the incident command post, so when we are in the midst of an incident, I am making sure that I am getting the correct information. We then distribute that to city staff PIO as well as the media and just make sure we have one unified message about what’s happening.”
The NOAA Weather Alert Radios are intended for LA County residents living within very high fire hazard severity zones, where communications can be challenged by poor cell coverage and or power outages.
OEM is authorized to use NOAA alerting signals to alert the public in LA County about wildfires, earthquakes, and other disasters by sending out an alert message over the NOAA weather radio frequencies.
Malibu Mayor Paul Grisanti said the radios are great for receiving announcements in times of fire danger. Although residents can get alerts through social media or on the internet, Grisanti said radios provide the first burst out to as many people as possible.
“I think the internet and online is great if you happen to be on the internet and searching for it, but what these [radios] do is push the notification out to you,” Grisanti said. “This radio turns on and tells you there’s a problem, and at that point, you can check the internet and see if there is anything.”
Public Safety Chair Chris Frost emphasized the importance of being prepared for emergencies and said the NOAA radios provide credibility to that time limit.
“You should be prepared ahead of time, so when that alert comes over, you’re not scrambling, having been a first responder for 25 years, I kind of know how the scenario goes,” Frost said. “You need to get your plan early, you need to go over it often, and you need to execute when it comes time.”
The City of Malibu also provides alert notifications through email or text messages. The alert center allows individuals to view all emergency alerts in your area. To be notified of alerts and emergencies, subscribe to Notify Me or RSS at cityofmalibu.org/alerts.