Emergency information in the palm of your hand


A new notification system will put emergency warnings right in people’s hands.

The Community Notification Network is now in place for St. Clair Township Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia. Residents who sign up on line will always get notifications either at home, by email, on a cell phone or by texts about things such as tornados and chemical emergencies where people are being warned to stay inside.

St. Clair Township Fire Chief Walt Anderson says they may also be able get additional notifications about things such as road closings and community events. Those will be up to the municipalities.

Anderson says the system – which has been used in cities such as Boston  for a number of years – also allows for a number of options to be used to reach residents. And he says you can receive information about municipalities where your relatives live so you can be sure they are safe in an emergency.

“You have an option of how you want to get the notification either by text, cell, email …if doesn’t get you on the cell phone it will call your home phone,” Anderson says.

“This is another tool that we can use, the sirens will sound for some people outside or who are used to it…another tool to reach people …it will be one message and it goes to everyone.”

Anderson says since the system was introduced, 1,800 people in St. Clair Township have signed up. In Sarnia, 30,000 homes are being contacted to see if they want to be involved.

The service is fee to homeowners since Sarnia-Lambton’s big petrochemical companies have pledged to pay the $20,000 yearly tab for the next three years.

Anderson says the new system is good bang for the buck when you consider the costs for other notification systems. “It’s at least $50,000 for a siren and that’s not as effective and there is a lot of ongoing maintenance.”

Residents can sign up for the service on the St. Clair Township or CAER websites.