Understand what each notification means

Find out about notifications of nuclear emergencies through sirens, local radio and television stations, emergency responders and other sources. Learn what each notification means and how to act.

Know what to do when you hear sirens

San Luis Obispo County's Early Warning System Sirens sound to alert you about an emergency taking place in the county. Area residents and visitors can tune in to a local radio or television station for information. The sirens can also mean an emergency is taking place at Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP). Protective Action Zones (PAZ) one through 12 have 131 sirens. The locations of these sirens stretch from Cayucos in the North to Nipomo Mesa in the South.
You can also be alerted by sirens and loud speakers used by police and fire agencies when an early warning siren fails to sound.


Follow safety guidelines when you hear a siren

In an emergency, you can hear a loud, steady siren that lasts three to five minutes. Use the following steps to stay safe when you hear an early warning siren:

  • Go indoors and tune to a local radio or television station. Stay tuned and listen for important information and instructions.
  • Check in with your neighbors to ensure they are aware of the emergency, if you are able. Inform them of current warnings and related emergency actions.
  • Tune to Marine Channel 16 for emergency information if you’re at sea.
  • Call 805-543-2444 if you urgently need information or assistance during an evacuation. Only call this number if it’s absolutely necessary. The County Office of Emergency Services activates this phone line only when there’s an emergency that affects a large number of people in the area.


Find out more from your local radio and television stations

The Emergency Notification System (ENS) informs you about the nature of the emergency and the steps you must take. All local radio and television stations are part of the ENS. The duty of the ENS stations is to broadcast and repeat official information about major emergencies.


Use reverse 911 to get supplemental notifications

Reverse 9-1-1 is used by public safety organizations to communicate emergency information. The program is designed to inform groups of people in a defined area about emergencies. Reverse 9-1-1 can be used as backup to the warning sirens and ENS.

Landline telephones are automatically included in the Reverse 9-1-1 system. Voice over IP and mobile phones must be registered. Learn more about Reverse 9-1-1 and how to register by viewing the San Luis Obispo County website. Visit Office of Emergency Services. You can also call 805-781-5011.


Do not call 911 unless you have an emergency situation

9-1-1 is an emergency line for people who need urgent medical, fire or police help. Use the following guidelines before deciding to call 9-1-1.

  • Do not call 9-1-1 to gain information about the emergency. Calling 9-1-1 when there isn’t an emergency ties up the system. The high phone traffic may delay help for someone who needs it.
  • Do not use your telephone unless you must call for help.
  • Do not leave your area unless you’re advised to do so by the ENS.