The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a nationwide method of alerting the public to natural and human-made disasters.
Current Federal Communications Commission regulations require all broadcast stations and cable systems to participate in EAS tests and activations. Public safety officials are not required to participate in EAS; however, their participation is encouraged as EAS is the fastest and most reliable way to alert large or isolated areas to potentially life-threatening emergencies. The need is great:
The State Plan addresses how to maintain communications over rugged terrain in case of forest fires. This is doubly important during the spring and summer, when visitors flock to Colorado but are often unaware of the need to evacuate the mountains as lightning storms approach.
Tornadoes generally strike on the eastern plains, though they have also been known to cause damage in the Denver Metro area. Sparse radio and television coverage in the eastern plains makes it difficult to provide widespread warning to residents in “tornado alley.”
Blizzards may hit any area of the state during winter. To complicate the matter of dispersing important information like highway closures, heavy ice may break power lines and leave many areas without power or telephone services.
As increasing numbers of people engage in a variety of winter sports, the public needs to be well informed on local avalanche risk, and rescue teams need reliable communications.
Spring rains, coupled with snow melt, increase the danger of flash flooding. While they may not save one’s property from being destroyed, evacuation notices do have the power to prevent loss of life.
Colorado is home to three highly traveled Interstates and numerous railways. Therefore, an ever-present risk exists that hazardous materials may leak or spill while in transit. Such a spill could close a major highway or force entire neighborhoods to evacuate.
To mitigate these and other disasters, state and local officials (along with broadcasters and cable casters) plan for and regularly test their emergency communication systems.
Federal Emergency Management Agency: www.fema.gov
National Weather Service: www.crh.noaa.gov
Society of Broadcast Engineers: www.sbe.org
Society of Telecommunications Engineers: www.scte.org
Federal Communications Commission: www.fcc.gov