Frequently Asked Questions

There are several different types of alerts and warnings. Government Officials use the Wireless Emergency Alert System (WEA) to send the public safety or emergency warning them of imminent threats in their area. The alerts are sent at no cost to the cell phone customer.

Learn more about the different alerts here.

Current openings with Salt Lake County Emergency Management can be found here.

If you’re interested in an internship opportunity with Salt Lake County Emergency Management, contact us and include your contact information.

Many kinds of emergencies can cause you to have to evacuate. In some cases, you may have a day or two to prepare while other situations might call for an immediate evacuation. Planning is vital to making sure that you can evacuate quickly and safely no matter what the circumstances.

Before an Evacuation

  • Learn the types of disasters that are likely in your community and the local emergency, evacuation and shelter plans for each specific disaster.
  • Plan how you will leave and where you will go if you are advised to evacuate.
  • Check with local officials about what shelter spaces are available for this year.  Coronavirus may have altered your community’s plans.
  • If you evacuate to a community shelter, follow the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for protecting yourself and your family from possible coronavirus: people over 2-years-old should use a cloth facial covering while at these facilities.
    • Be prepared to take cleaning items with you like masks, soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes or general household cleaning supplies to disinfect surfaces.
    • Maintain at least 6 feet of space between you and people who aren’t in your immediate family.
  • Identify several places you could go in an emergency such as a friend’s home in another town or a motel. Choose destinations in different directions so that you have options during an emergency.
  • If needed, identify a place to stay that will accept pets. Most public shelters allow only service animals.
  • Be familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area.
  • Always follow the instructions of local officials and remember that your evacuation route may be on foot depending on the type of disaster.
  • Come up with a family/household plan to stay in touch in case you become separated; have a meeting place and update it depending on the circumstance.
  • Assemble supplies that are ready for evacuation. Prepare a “go-bag” you can carry when you evacuate on foot or public transportation and supplies for traveling longer distances if you have a car.
  • If you have a car:
    • Keep a full tank of gas if an evacuation seems likely. Keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.
    • Make sure you have a portable emergency kit in the car.
  • If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if needed. Decide with family, friends or your local emergency management office to see what resources may be available.

During an Evacuation

  • Download the FEMA app for a list of open shelters during an active disaster in your local area.
  • Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.
  • Take your emergency supply kit.
  • Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
  • Take your pets with you but understand that only service animals may be allowed in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency now.
  • If time allows:
    • Call or email the out-of-state contact in your family communications plan (link to 3.3). Tell them where you are going.
    • Secure your home by closing and locking doors and windows.
    • Unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding. If there is damage to your home and you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving.
    • Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
    • Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a hat.
    • Check with neighbors who may need a ride.
  • Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts, they may be blocked.
  • Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into flooded areas.

After an Evacuation

If you evacuated for the storm, check with local officials both where you’re staying and back home before you travel.

  • If you are returning to disaster-affected areas, after significant events prepare for disruptions to daily activities and remember that returning home before storm debris is cleared is dangerous.
  • Let friends and family know before you leave and when you arrive.
  • Charge devices and consider getting back-up batteries in case power-outages continue.
  • Fill up your gas tank and consider downloading a fuel app to check for outages along your route.
  • Bring supplies such as water and non-perishable food for the car ride.
  • Avoid downed power or utility lines, they may be live with deadly voltage. Stay away and report them immediately to your power or utility company.
  • Only use generators outside and away from your home and NEVER run a generator inside a home or garage or connect it to your home’s electrical system.

Utah Special Needs Registry

Utah residents with access and functional needs are encouraged to register with the Utah Special Needs Registry. The registration website allows residents with access and functional needs an opportunity to provide information to emergency response agencies so those agencies can better plan to serve them in a disaster or other emergencies

The information collected will not be available to the public. It will only be shared with emergency response agencies to improve their ability to serve.

There is no substitute for personal preparation. In a disaster, government and other agencies may not be able to meet your needs. It is important for all residents to make individual plans and preparations for their care and safety in an emergency. You are in the best position to plan for your own safety as you are best able to know your functional abilities and possible needs during and after an emergency or disaster situation. You can cope with disaster by preparing in advance with your family and care attendants.

Persons with mobility disability

  • If you use a wheelchair or scooter, request that an emergency evacuation chair be stored near a stairwell on the same floor where you work or live, so that your network can readily access it to help you evacuate. The person with the disability should be involved in the selection of the evacuation chair.
  • People who require the use of an evacuation chair should designate a primary and backup contact to assist them in the event of an evacuation. Create an evacuation plan in collaboration with the building manager and contact persons, and practice using the chair with them.
  • In your personal assessment checklist, identify areas of your body that have reduced sensation so that these areas can be checked for injuries after an emergency, if you cannot do so yourself.
  • Check with your local municipal office to find out if emergency shelters in your area are wheelchair accessible.

Non-Visible Disabilities

  • Keep an emergency contact list on your person. This list should note key people that are aware of your special needs.
  • Inform your designated support network of where you store your medication.
  • Consider wearing a MedicAlert® bracelet or identification to help notify emergency responders about your special needs.
  • Request that a panic push-button be installed in your work and living areas so that in an emergency you can notify others of your location and that you need special assistance.
  • Have a longer white cane available to readily maneuver around obstacles (there may be debris on the floor or furniture may have shifted).
  • Identify all emergency supplies in advance with fluorescent tape, large print or Braille text, such as gas, water and electric shutoff valves.
  • Familiarize yourself in advance with all escape routes and locations of emergency doors/exits on each floor of any building where you work, live and visit.

Persons with a hearing impairment

  • Communicate your hearing loss by moving your lips without making a sound, pointing to your ear, using a gesture, or if applicable, pointing to your hearing aid.
  • Keep a pencil and paper handy for written communication.
  • Obtain a pager that is connected to an emergency paging system at your workplace and/or your residence.
  • Install a smoke detection system that includes flashing strobe lights or vibrators to get your attention if the alarms sound.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly by pushing the test button.
  • Replace batteries every six months or whenever there is a low battery signal.

Contact us here for more information.

Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) oversees road conditions in the canyons and has dedicated communications specialists to monitor and communicate conditions in the canyons.

Information about the Cottonwood Canyons, including current conditions, traffic cameras, traffic restrictions, equipment requirements, and more can be found at Cottonwood Canyons

Current Canyon road conditions and alerts, follow UDOT Cottonwood Canyons

Twitter: @UDOTCottonwoods 
Facebook: Cottonwood Canyons
Instagram: udotcottonwoods 

Canyon Restrictions

Snow Tire, 4×4, Tire Chain Requirements in the Cottonwood Canyons

Daily Requirement October 1 through April 30

The Utah Department of Transportation requires ALL vehicles travelling in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons to be equipped with approved snow tires October 1st through April 30th. Approved tires can be identified by an M+S (mud and snow) or a Snowflake symbol on the sidewall of the tire. At a minimum, snow tires must be mounted on the two primary drive wheels of the vehicle. Tires must have sufficient tread depth to be effective. No bald tires!

Absent approved snow tires (sometimes called winter tires) properly sized tire chains must be in your possession.

An Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) is a center to help coordinate the resources needed for those field responders working throughout any and all areas of operation prior to, during, and post disasters. This is the primary place that will house Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) that are recognized throughout the FEMA response framework as supportive functions of critical infrastructure within any given disaster scenario, either man-made or natural. Some cities or jurisdictions run a different setup than an ESF setup, such as the FLOP model (Finance, Logistics, Operations and Planning with Command and General Staff above that). These various models allow the coordination and response of not only resources, but also personnel within the Salt Lake Valley. This is also where the Policy Group will meet with the Command Staff, the Planning Section, the Finance Section, the Operations Section, and the Logistics Section to create priorities for the entire affected area(s) or Salt Lake County as needed.

An Emergency Coordination Center is not…

A center to run the field operations. It is a misnomer and when Emergency Coordination Centers first started, they were (and many still are called) Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs).  This is not an Incident Command Post (ICP), where the operations for any given incident are directed. It is merely the “shopping center” for those field personnel to ask for and order their required resources.

  1. Prevention: Actions taken to avoid an incident or prevent it from occurring.
  2. Preparedness: Increase a community’s ability to respond when a disaster occurs, includes planning, training, and educational activities for events that cannot be mitigated.
  3. Mitigation: Respond quickly to save lives, protect property and the environment, and meet basic human needs in the aftermath of a catastrophic incident.
  4. Response: Protect our citizens, residents, visitors and assets against the greatest threats and hazards in a manner that allows our interests, aspirations and way of life to thrive.
  5. Recovery: Recover through a focus on the timely restoration, strengthening, and revitalization of infrastructure, housing and sustainable economy, as well as the health, social, cultural, historic and environmental fabric of communities affected by a catastrophic incident.

Salt Lake County Emergency Management is managed by the Unified Fire Authority through a 50-year charter created in 2004. All responsibilities of prevention, preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery fall to Salt Lake County Emergency Management.

CERT programs span the nation. To search for a program near you, click here

Salt Lake County CERT Coordination Council 

There are different assistance programs for individual citizens versus public groups like government agencies and private nonprofit organizations. Find the help you need to support your disaster recovery here

Learn more about Damage Assistance in Utah