REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - San Mateo County emergency managers have divided the Peninsula into more than 300 evacuation zones in preparation for wildfire season, and all residents are encouraged to memorize their zone code to help save lives.
The "Know Your Zone" campaign is in partnership with Zonehaven, a third-party software system that has teamed up with emergency services across the region to send out real-time evacuation information during disasters.
What makes the software different is that it carves out zones based on best evacuation routes, traffic patterns and other factors, rather than traditional neighborhoods. First responders will make their evacuation orders based on these zones, and information will be sent out to the public via emergency alert notifications, social media and other platforms.
Residents can access real-time traffic conditions, open emergency shelters, incident location and information, weather updates and more in the Zonehaven platform.
"When it comes to emergency response, every minute counts," said San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley, whose District 3 includes the coast from Pacifica to the Santa Cruz County border. "Zonehaven gives emergency responders the ability to form hyperlocal evacuation plans quickly and collaboratively, which can be shared with the public immediately."
San Mateo County was one of the first to implement Zonehaven's services during last year's CZU Lightining Complex fire. San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties used Zonehaven to evacuate more than 70,000 people in five days.
"Zonehaven was vital for quickly and accurately implementing and managing evacuations in San Mateo County during the CZU Lighting Complex," said Jonathan Cox, Cal Fire division chief for San Mateo County. "This online platform is a technological leap forward that allows us to instantaneously and directly communicate real-time evacuation information to the public, and in turn helps to get people to safety faster."
San Mateo County residents are encouraged to visit the Zonehaven platform and take note of their zone number, and follow their local emergency services on social media. Residents can also sign up to receive county emergency text and voice messages to their landline, cellphone or email at SMC Alert.
"Now is the time, before an emergency, to take a few minutes to look up your zone and sign up for emergency alert notifications," said Charlie Crocker, Zonehaven's chief executive officer. "We can provide the tool but it's up to everyone to get prepared. Here in California we face the constant threat of wildfires, floods and earthquakes. So let's all take a moment to get prepared the best we can."