Office of Emergency Services
The Office of Emergency Services is situated in the Administration department and is responsible for interagency coordination and developing a sustainable, comprehensive approach for whole community protection. The organization, integration, and support of all departments and activities necessary to build, sustain, and improve upon the City's capabilities to mitigate against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters, threats, and emergencies through leadership, collaboration, communication, and meaningful partnerships will promote community resilience.
Sign Up for Notification and Warning Systems
Emergency Alert System (EAS) - No registration is required
This is the National public warning system that will interrupt local broadcast tv and radio programming to provide an alert in the event of a large-scale emergency.
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) - No registration is required
These are urgent alerts sent as text-like messages to your mobile phone based on your location (you will only receive notification if you are in the area of the emergency). WEAs have three alert categories -- Imminent Threat, AMBER, Presidential. You must keep the factory settings on to your WEA- capable phone to receive a WEA.
Refer to https://www.ready.gov/alerts or more information on EAS and WEA.
AlertSCC - Registration required
The City of Gilroy utilizes AlertSCC, the County’s official emergency and alert notification system, to send important advisories, alerts, and warnings directly to your cell phone, landline, or email. You do not have to be in the location of the emergency and can receive alerts for multiple addresses (i.e., work, child’s school, home). Registering for AlertSCC is one of the fastest, easiest, and most immediately productive things you can do to better prepare for an emergency. AlertSCC is specifically designed to help you safely manage your actions in an emergency.
Alerts can include:
- Hazards (i.e., flooding, wildfires, severe weather)
- Instructions during an emergency
- Incidents affecting your neighborhood
Registering takes only minutes, the service is free, information is confidential and secure, and it can be deleted at any time.
Register and customize settings at AlertSCC.
Nixle - Registration required
The City of Gilroy also utilizes Nixle to share community-related public safety information. There are three types of Nixle notifications: Alert, Advisory, and Community. These notifications may be sent via text or email and will be posted to the 95020 Nixle Alert page.
Register and customize your settings at Nixle or text your zip code to 888777.
Other ways to stay informed
Local Radio and Television Stations
In the event that the City is unable to use networked communications, Cable Channel 17 and AM radio 1610 will be used to share emergency information with our community.
Make a Plan and Practice
Living in Gilroy, we are vulnerable to disasters such as earthquakes, wildfires, and flooding. Once you understand the disasters that could happen in your area, the next step is to start preparing. Gather with the members of your household and talk through various scenarios.
Here are some key points to review:
- Determine the safest escape routes from your home, workplace, and school including two ways out of each room.
- Identify safe spots in each room where you could take cover, if needed, like under sturdy tables and desks.
- Identify family meeting places and possible evacuation routes. Pick two locations – one in your neighborhood and another outside of your neighborhood. In the event your home is unsafe, your family can meet at the neighborhood location. In the event of an evacuation, meet at the location outside your neighborhood.
- Determine where you will stay if displaced whether it is with friends, family, a hotel, or a public shelter.
- Make an emergency contact list and include everyone’s phone numbers and additional contact information. Store all this information in your cell phone and make a few copies for your car, grab-and-go kit, and your house. Start a group text message group with all of these numbers so you can communicate quickly.
- Document emergency information you might need including medical information and insurance for all family members.
- Choose an out-of-state contact you can call after a disaster. Sometimes when phone lines are jammed it is easier to make an out-of-state call. All members of your household can check in with the out-of-state contact.
- In a major disaster plan to be self-sufficient for not less than 72 hours.
- Determine how you will stay informed.
- If you are unable to place a phone call, try texting. Texting is more likely to succeed and leaves more phone lines open for 9-1-1 calls.
- Keep your important documents in a safe place and take them with you if you are required to evacuate. Documents should be uploaded digitally to the cloud and hard copies should be stored in a fire-safe place like a safe or in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer.
Helping Children Prepare
If there are children in your household make sure you include them in the conversation and planning process. Have age-appropriate conversations about disasters that could affect your family and make sure kids know the family meeting locations. Plan in advance and notify your school or childcare who will pick up your children in case you are unable to get there. Also, ask your children’s school or daycare about their emergency and evacuation plans.
Make sure your children know these three things:
- Their home address and family phone numbers
- How and when to call 9-1-1
- What to do if the smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm goes off
Helping those with Access and Functional Needs Prepare
If there are members of your household who may need additional assistance, make sure you have what you need to assist them with different types of disasters. Have a conversation with each person in your household to clearly understand their needs. For those with mobility impairments, plan several accessible routes to get to your planned meeting places. If you or anyone else depends on power for medical equipment, make sure to plan for power outages and have a backup battery power source. Consider storing backup equipment, such as a manual wheelchair, at a nearby accessible location. If anyone depends on daily medications, talk to their medical provider about obtaining an emergency supply of medicine.
Here are some individuals that may require additional support:
- Older Adults
- Non-Native English speakers
- Pregnant women or parents with babies and/or small children
- Homebound individuals
- Post-surgery patients
- People with physical or emotional disabilities
- Individuals with no access to transportation
- People with specific dietary needs
Some questions to consider as you think about supporting these members of your household:
- Have they documented their medical history and any medications they are taking?
- Is there anyone else who can help transport them if they are home alone when disaster hits?
- Can others in your Support Network help you and them?
- Can you help others in your Support Network?
Preparing for Pets and Service Animals
If you have a pet or service animal, make sure to include them in your plan. Aim to have a two-week supply of food and water. Have pet-related documentation, medications, and pet carrier ready to go. Keep a photo of you with your pet in case you are separated.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Once your family has created a plan, you should practice each component of it. Also, make sure, everyone knows where your emergency kits and information are stored. It is recommended that you review and practice your plan annually.
Refer to Ready.gov for more information.
Know Your Hazards
Gilroy is prone to many natural and human-made threats and is vulnerable to earthquakes, wildfires, flooding. Because of Gilroy’s many threats, the importance of readiness as a City and for residents cannot be overstated. Part of disaster preparedness is knowing the kinds of hazards and disasters you might be subject to living and working in Gilroy. Use the MyHazards tool on the California Office of Emergency Services website to understand better the hazards that threaten our community.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency places California in the “very high risk” category for earthquakes. In fact, California experiences the most frequent damaging earthquakes; however, Alaska experiences the greatest number of large earthquakes —most of which are located in uninhabited areas. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is the leading agency that provides the public and policymakers with a clear understanding of natural hazards and provides comprehensive real-time earthquake monitoring.
There are many fault systems running throughout the area that can lead to earthquakes of all types and sizes. Large earthquakes create an aftershock sequence that can produce additional earthquakes for many months. Earthquakes can occur in cold, hot, rainy, or dry weather; there is no such thing as “earthquake weather.” Gilroy experiences many earthquakes each year, though most are so small that they are never felt.
Follow these links for additional information:
The geography, weather patterns, and number of Wildland Urban Interface communities in California make it a state particularly threatened by devastating wildfire. As catastrophic wildfires continue to increase each year in California, make sure to protect yourself and your family – plan, prepare and stay aware. Winds combined with dry vegetation, high temperatures, and low humidity make for dangerous fire conditions. The vegetation along Gilroy’s wildland-urban interface (WUI) can quickly burst into flames, rapidly spread, starting a deadly wildfire. When critical weather and fire conditions exist, the Gilroy Fire Department will issue a Red Flag Warning Alert. One of the best ways to keep these fires at a safe distance from your home is to make sure that nearby brush is cleared away from structures.
Visit Gilroy Fire for essential prevention and preparedness information.
Severe Weather and Flooding
Gilroy has multiple watershed drainage canals and creeks. This can create problems when we receive substantial rainfall, reservoirs are at capacity, and the soil is saturated. Flooding can develop quickly or over a period of days with these conditions and can be especially dangerous for those caught by a rapidly moving water.
Follow these links for additional preparedness and safety information:
While Gilroy typically enjoys the marine layer’s cooling effects, it can be incredibly hot, especially during summer with little cooling at night. Even indoors, temperatures can be just as uncomfortable without air conditioning or strong fans blowing cool air. For most of us, it’s unpleasant. For others, it can be deadly.
Visit Santa Clara County Office of Emergency Management for more information on extreme heat, weather safety, and cooling centers throughout the county.
Extreme cold can immobilize an entire region. Even areas that typically experience mild winters can be hit with freezing temperatures. Weather of this nature can also cause hypothermia. Without proper heating, some homes within the City can become dangerously cold in the winter, especially for the ill and elderly. Extreme cold can cause the body’s temperature to lower dramatically, causing hypothermia and even death.
Visit Santa Clara County Office of Emergency Management for more information on extreme cold, weather safety, and warming centers throughout the county.
After an emergency or disaster, you may be required to be self-sufficient for several days. Building a kit(s) and customizing it to the unique needs of you and your family is a critical component of preparedness. Consider building a stay kit and a go-bag to meet your immediate needs after a disaster. Stay kits have additional items that would be heavy to take with you, and go bags are ready to go when you must leave in a hurry.
Many of the things you should include in your emergency kit may already be in your home! Look around and begin assembling some key supplies:
- Water: Bottled water (one gallon per person/per day for at least three days), water purification tablets
- Food: Non-perishable foods that do not need cooking (ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables, or juices, protein or granola bars, cereal, peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts, crackers, baby food, comfort foods)
- Tools and Supplies: Radio (battery-powered or hand crank), flashlight or lantern, extra batteries, cell phone with charger, multi-purpose tools
- Personal Items: Prescription medications (two-week supply), personal hygiene items, eyeglasses, contact lenses, dentures, extra batteries or supplies for medical equipment, change of clothes, sturdy shoes
- Pet supplies: Collar, leash, harness, crate, food, bowls, current photo, license, and medical information
- Documents: Insurance policies, bank account records, identification cards (IDs), medical information, and other copies of important documents
- Money: Extra cash in smaller denominations
- Other Items: First-aid kit, emergency whistle, waterproof matches/lighter, local area maps, sleeping bags, blankets, diapers, wipes, formula, baby food and supplies, and kid-appropriate toys, games, puzzles, books, and any other comfort items
Additional items to consider during COVID-19:
- Include face coverings and/or masks to prevent the spread of germs.
- Include disinfectants, hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies that you may need in an emergency.
Refer to Ready.gov for additional information on building an emergency supply kit.
We must prepare for the unexpected, as a community, by staying informed about the types of emergencies and disasters that may occur and continue to learn more about how we can prepare and safeguard ourselves and our community from these events. Now is the time to discuss emergency preparedness within your organization and with your friends, family, and neighbors. Working together will promote safety and resilience within our community. A resilient community can withstand a disaster and get back to normal quickly, even if normal isn’t the same as it was before. Remember, community preparedness starts at home. If you know that your family is prepared at home, you will be better able to help others in your community.
Here are some ways to promote community preparedness:
Individuals and families: Preparedness begins with you and your family! Do 1 thing every month. Sign up for a CPR, First Aid, and/or our local Community Emergency Response Team course. Many organizations offer public education, outreach, and training. To learn more about how you can prepare yourself and your family for an emergency or disaster, visit Get Ready California or Listos California.
Neighbors: Connect with your neighbors and discuss how you can prepare for disasters that may occur in your area. Establish a neighborhood plan. Discuss your needs, the steps to take while waiting for help to arrive, and multiple evacuation routes out of your neighborhood. Discuss what equipment or supplies can you share (e.g. temporary shelter, power generator, transportation, communication devices, first aid). Reveal your skills and find out who among you has any medical and/or technical skills that may come in handy in an emergency. Find out who has children, seniors, people with disabilities, and pets in their homes. Decide who will check on and assist neighbors in advance.
Nonprofit, faith-based, and community-based organizations: Develop emergency plans and make preparedness a priority within your organization. Encourage volunteerism and offer educational and training opportunities to organization personnel and the community. To learn more about how you can prepare your organization for a disaster, visit Ready.org.
Businesses: Businesses are essential to helping communities recover after a disaster. Develop emergency preparedness, crisis communication, continuity plans. Review and practice plans with your employees regularly. Make preparedness a priority and encourage your employees to create a plan with their family. To learn more about how your business can prepare for an emergency or disaster, visit Ready.gov.
For a guide on preparing your business, download:
Additional preparedness resources
FEMA Independent Study Program – This is a great program that offers free online classes to those with emergency management responsibilities and the general public.
Gilroy CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training is a 20-hour, nationally recognized course which prepares individuals to help prior to, during and after a large-scale disaster. For those interested in taking the CERT course FEMA offers IS-317.A: An Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams (2-hours).
CERT Course offerings for 2022
These are hybrid courses with a combination of multiple online modules (Tuesdays & Thursdays) and one in-person training (Saturday).
Gilroy RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service) provides disaster communications for the City during an emergency. Contact Gilroy Office of Emergency Services for additional information regarding volunteer opportunities.
Gilroy CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) prepares individuals to help prior to, during and after a large-scale disaster and is ideal for those hoping to become part of the City’s disaster response. Contact Gilroy Office of Emergency Services for additional information regarding volunteer opportunities.
American Red Cross Silicon Valley Chapter offers various volunteer opportunities. American Red Cross provides vital services in coordination with the City during disasters.