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Opinion

Readers React: Why not bring back air-raid sirens for disaster alert in California?

Butte County wildfire and evacuations, USA - 08 Nov 2018
Firefighters battle the Camp fire in Butte County, Calif., on Nov. 9.
(Peter DaSilva / EPA-Shutterstock)

To the editor: What’s so difficult about creating a disaster alert system in California that can reach everyone during a crisis?

Every summer I travel to Elcho, Wis., in the rural north part of that state. That area has a volunteer fire department, and if there is a fire, a siren is blown to call in the volunteers. It’s like an air-raid siren. You can hear it for miles and miles around.

No, it doesn’t broadcast any specific information, but it is a signal to wake up or go inside and turn on the radio to see what’s happening and find out what to do.

The idea that everyone is tethered to a cellphone, can afford Internet access and is responding 24/7 to various pings and pokes like urban millennials is a myth. Invest in something simple, tried and true — even more democratic, if you will.

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Sarah Starr, Los Angeles

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To the editor: If California wants an effective alert system, we should revisit what was in place during and after World War II: loud air-raid sirens.

Siren calls could alert the whole population to check their phones or radios for emergency information. This system should not cost much to adopt.

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During the Malibu fire, though the city has a phone warning system, we were totally out of communication because power was out. There was no TV, wireless internet or electricity. We would have welcomed a first-wave notification and some sort of series of blasts as code to tell us what was happening.

Dave Weiner, Malibu

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