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Jackson County to test Citizen Alert system

Notifications will go out Thursday to registered people

Jackson County and local city governments will conduct a test of the Citizen Alert notification system on Thursday.

People who are signed up for Citizen Alert will receive landline or cellphone calls, texts or emails with a test notification message. How someone gets an alert depends on the method or methods they signed up for when registering with Citizen Alert.

The test comes as Southern Oregon readies for another fire season, city of Medford and county officials said.

The Oregon Department of Forestry hasn’t yet declared the start of the season.

“It’s been an interesting year. It started off so dry we were anticipating an early start to the fire season,” said ODF Southwest District Public Information Officer Natalie Weber. “Then we had a lot of rain in April and May. The start of fire season depends on when the weather shifts to consistently warmer temperatures and summer-like conditions.”

The latest ODF will declare the start of fire season in Southwest Oregon is June 1, she said.

Last year’s declared fire season stretched from May 12 to Oct. 20, the longest ever. Jackson County escaped major damage, unlike the 2020 season when the Almeda and South Obenchain fires destroyed thousands of homes and businesses and killed three people.

The 2020 season uncovered flaws in the emergency notification system, with some people not receiving alerts of approaching flames.

Local officials hope Thursday’s Citizen Alert notifications will test the system, increase awareness of the alerts and prompt more people to register.

All Jackson County residents can sign up for Citizen Alert and get more information at jacksoncountyor.org/emergency/resources/citizen-alert.

Residents who are already signed up are encouraged to review and update their contact information if needed before the Thursday test. On your cellphone, add the numbers 541-897-8556 and the text message number 88911 to know when you are receiving an alert so you don’t block or decline the alert.

Jackson County is offering help to people who have questions, or who believe they’re signed up but don’t get an alert on Thursday. Contact Jackson County Emergency Management at 541-774-6790 or alert@jacksoncounty.org.

The city of Medford plans to send out Citizen Alert notices with specific information tailored to a person’s evacuation zone. Individuals can sign up to get notifications for several different areas.

“I think it’s the best means to know what’s going on in your immediate area. You can sign up to get alerts for your home, your child’s school address, your business or other location. You can have up to five different addresses,” said city of Medford Emergency Management Coordinator Aaron Ott.

Medford residents who have questions or who don’t get an alert on Thursday can call 541-774-2320 or email citizenalert@cityofmedford.org to get help with a Citizen Alert account.

Ott encouraged every member of a household to sign up separately for Citizen Alert notifications. Once people receive alerts and respond that they’ve received a notification, the system will stop sending alerts.

A husband, for example, could respond that he has received an alert, triggering a stop to further messages, when his wife has not yet received an alert, Ott said.

In addition to signing up for Citizen Alert notifications that are tied to specific addresses, Jackson County residents can sign up to receive text message alerts if an evacuation warning is issued for any part of the county. Text JACKSONEVACS to 888777.