Getting To Know Your NOAA Weather Alert Radio

Annemarie DonkinBy Annemarie Donkin

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Getting To Know Your NOAA Weather Alert Radio
Photo By Annemarie Donkin
The Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) are continuing to distribute free National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios to L.A. County residents living in “Very High Fire Severity Zones.” The radios are designed to literally “wake you up” in the middle of the night with alerts from fire to earthquakes in areas where communications can be a challenge due to little or no cell coverage and/or power outages. Locally, the radios are earmarked for residents of the Santa Monica Mountains region. This includes the Cities of Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Malibu and Westlake Village—plus Topanga Canyon, Sunset Mesa, Monte Nido, Seminole Springs, Malibou Lake and all other unincorporated communities within the County. Additionally, through a grant from Southern California Edison, several hundred radios were designated for the Canyon SAGES. “As of Sept. 22, L.A. County has distributed about 2,000 NOAA Weather Alert Radios throughout the entire Santa Monica Mountains region, and approximately 600 of those were to residents of Topanga Canyon,” wrote Megan Currier, Community Services Liaison, Los Angeles County Fire Department, Division 7. “However, we are not done handing the radios out. We will be scheduling more distribution events within the next couple of months, and I will be sending out an email to everyone who has registered for a radio but not yet picked it up. There are about 450 Topanga residents who have registered and not picked up their radio.” The distribution events will also be posted on the registration link at: Plug and Play: Your NOAA radio is already pre-programmed for all L.A. County weather, fire and earthquake alerts that could result in imminent danger. All you have to do is install the three AAA batteries (included), set the time. and plug it in. For more information, go to the recorded online training at “One purpose of the weather radio program is to send out warnings and alerts using as many modes as possible,” said Jeanne O’Donnell, CEO of the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management (OEM).
Free NOAA weather radios continue to be distributed to L.A. County residents living in “Very High Fire Severity Zones.”
“We have other alerts that rely on cellphone reception and the internet; this system uses radio frequencies. Having a weather radio in your home is like a personal alarm; it is one more way to receive urgent messages. Since the radios use batteries as a backup, you will still get alerts when there’s no power. `ning systems. Anyone can purchase a weather radio; they are widely available and used throughout the U.S.”
Topanga’s Role: James Grasso of TCEP and Co-chair of the Topanga Emergency Management Task Force, and Bryce Anderson of TCEP played major roles in pushing for the radio program in answer to the perpetual question, how to alert people in Topanga and the Santa Monica Mountains in emergencies.
Ultimately, the NOAA weather radio was the answer, because of the possibility of a Public Service Power Shutoff (PSPS) where utilities may temporarily turn off power to specific areas to reduce the risk of fires caused by electric infrastructure.
“The County finally saw this was low-hanging fruit,” Grasso said after he had conducted research on what model radio would work best to alert people. “We pushed and pushed and were able to get some federal monies to make this happen, and came up with the idea that is ultimately a relatively easy solution to a difficult problem.”
Grasso acknowledged that the alerts are not just for communities such as Topanga, but for L.A. County as a whole, which means you’ll also receive alerts that do not pertain to our area.
“Nevertheless,” he said, “that might not be a bad thing. What I would say is to ignore the out-of-area alerts but stay aware that we are in fire season and use it as an early warning system.”
Topangans Bill Naylor and Jane Terjung helped program about 100 of the radios and acknowledge the role others played in the distribution.
“The free Alert Radios were from an L.A. County grant and a separate SCE Grant to Canyon SAGES,” wrote Terjung. “Megan Currier, our helpful Fire Department Community Liaison, worked tirelessly to help distribute all over L.A. County and was flexible about allowing neighbors to pick up for each other.
Susan Clark of Topanga Animal Rescue home-delivered about 50 to our vulnerable residents (aided by Velvet Marshall and her husband, Chris Chavez).”
Naylor and Terjung now have a new webpage full of Alert Radio information, plus the entire “How Two Get Alerted” topic in detail:
Also refer to the sidebar to this article: “NOAA Alert Radio Quick Start Guide.”
About the Office of Emergency Management: Regarding Topanga and the aftermath of fires and disasters, the OEM has the responsibility of comprehensively planning for, responding to, and recovering from large-scale emergencies and disasters that impact Los Angeles County.
OEM’s work is accomplished in partnership and collaboration with first-response agencies, as well as non-profit, private sector, and government partners.

Los Angeles County has established various disaster preparedness programs to assist individuals and businesses to prepare for emergencies. For more information:
Annemarie Donkin

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September 30, 2022