Frequently Asked Questions
The following FAQ applies to residents of the city of Portland and Multnomah County. Click on the following links to sign up and learn more about other notification systems in the region:
When will emergency notifications be sent?
Messages will be sent as soon as possible after confirmation of an emergency or significant event, which may occur at any time of day or night.
What types of emergency notifications can I expect to receive?
The telephone number(s) you register will be called only when the address it is associated with is impacted by an emergency. Emergency notifications may provide informational awareness or may be emergency alerts containing instructions. Types of emergencies that may trigger the use of the system include (but are not limited to):
- Severe flooding
- Hazardous material spill or release
- Water main breaks or other service outage
- Boil water notice
- Large fires including wildland fires
- Tornado or other severe weather event
- Hostage or terrorist event
- Major landslide
- Public health emergency
- Volcanic eruption
Why are emergency notifications different depending on the device I use?
Each mode of communication has different limitations. Messages received by phone and email can be longer than text messages and Twitter messages. If a long message is sent by text, the message gets broken down into separate messages that are not guaranteed by carriers to be received in the correct order.
How reliable is the delivery of emergency notifications from Public Alerts?
While every effort has been made to ensure reliability of the systems the City uses, delivery of Public Alerts services is heavily dependent on external networks and providers outside the City’s control. The City is actively performing outreach with service providers to make sure accurate messages get to you. However, below are some examples of service limitations.
Email: While email is often the fastest way to deliver information, your ability to receive emails may be disrupted if the networks are damaged or at maximum capacity.
Text Messages: Wireless data networks can also be compromised by outages and high traffic volumes. Additionally, most wireless carriers do not guarantee the timely delivery of text messages, nor do they guarantee text messages will be received at all. Contact your wireless service provider or review your contract to see how these policies might affect your ability to receive text messages from Public Alerts. The limit for text messages is 140 characters.
Telephone: This method sends pre-recorded messages to your phone, but it may be disrupted if your wired or wireless carrier is experiencing network congestion, outages, or you have poor reception.
Website: The City’s website has been designed to handle high volumes of users with little or no affect on performance. However, you may not be able to access certain websites if your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is experiencing outages.
Twitter: Tweets may also be delayed and allow the fewest number of characters to deliver a message.
Will I only receive emergency notifications from Public Alerts?
No. City and County officials will also ensure emergency information is available via Twitter, Public Alerts web page, Portland Office of Emergency Management web page, media, and the Emergency Alert System (as appropriate).