Frequently Asked Questions about the
Henrico County Community Emergency Notification System – www.henricoalert.org

What is the Henrico County Community Emergency Notification System? This system is one of many tools that Henrico County Public Safety officials can use to notify you of critical information like evacuation notices to missing child alerts. Henrico County, in partnership with Emergency Communications Network, LLC , is using the CodeRED high-speed notification solution. This system provides Henrico County public safety officials the ability to quickly deliver messages to targeted areas of the County or to the entire county.

When is the system used?  Unless you sign up for non-emergency notifications, the system is ONLY used for life-safety emergency situations, and is not used to send out weather information or other community notification information. For example, the system may be used to evacuate a neighborhood or tell people to shelter in place for a hazardous materials incident or to alert citizens that police and fire personnel are searching for a missing child or missing senior that has medical problems that need immediate attention in your neighborhood.  The intention of the system is to share information on how to keep you and your family safe, as well as a way to give you information on how to help your public safety first responders.

Why did I get a test message from the system if it’s only used for emergencies? As a part of the system set up, all phone numbers in Henrico County that have been registered with Verizon’s 9-1-1 database were contacted.  The reason was to test the system.  This test allows us to set the system to reduce the number of dropped calls or busy signals that the system gets in a true emergency situation which could result in multiple calls being sent to phone numbers that received the message the first time with no problem. 

How will I know it’s an emergency message? On your landline or cell phone device, the phone number 1-866-419-5000 and the caller ID of “Emergency Comm” will appear.  You will know that it is an important emergency message from the public safety partners in Henrico County. We recommend that you save that number in your cell phone as a contact so that you will have that on file.  As always, your information remains private and will only be used for emergency notifications.

Why was I called with an emergency message?  Your phone number is tied to an address.  That address was considered close enough to the emergency that it was appropriate to contact you.

Is this the only way I will get notified of emergencies? The Henrico County Community Emergency Notification System is one of several ways that we can provide you safety information.  This includes the County’s web page, HCTV, and local media.  This doesn’t replace those outreach methods…it just enhances them!

How is the system activated? Henrico County’s emergency management personnel, along with other public safety partners in Fire and Police determine when to activate the system.  For example, if there was a need to evacuate a neighborhood, public safety partners can access the system and draw the evacuation zone on a map, record a message telling people what to do to remain safe, and send the message out!

How do I sign up? Your home or business landline (traditional) telephone is already registered!  For emergency notifications, we use the same database information that is available in our emergency 9-1-1 center to send a message to your landline telephone number.  If you have Voice-Over Internet service, be sure to check with your provider to ensure that your number is included in the emergency database.  Visit www.henricoalert.org and complete the online registration form.  This portal will register your mobile devices (cell phones, text devices) on the system so you can receive info. Anyone with a landline in the County is automatically included, and it does not matter where you reside for text-messages.  It is open to anyone who would like to register, regardless of residency.  There is no cost from Henrico County for the system, but your cell provider may charge for text messages.  Once you register, you can test your email and cell phone in the system to make sure your information is working, and you can contact our Office of Emergency Management at 501-7183 or emergencymanager@co.henrico.va.us for assistance.

How do I opt out of the system? Although we would like for you to leave your information in the system, as it is only used in emergency, life-safety situations, we understand your desire to be removed from the system.  To accomplish this, we just need to collect your name, address that you’d like to remove, landline phone number you’d like to remove, email(s) or cell phone number(s) that you entered but now you’d like to remove, and our Office of Emergency Management will remove you from the system as soon as possible, usually within one business day.  The Office of Emergency Management will also send you an opt-out form that we ask you return to us so that we can better manage the community input and feedback on how to improve our outreach methods to help keep you and your family safe.

How did you get my number?  I didn’t sign up and didn’t authorize this.  Your phone is registered with Verizon’s emergency 9-1-1 database.  This is the same database that provides your address and phone number to our emergency communications center, or 9-1-1 center when you dial 9-1-1.  This information allows the emergency communications officers to send help to you if you can’t talk to them in an emergency.  Since the purpose of the Code Red system is to provide you with information during an emergency, a “reverse 911″ call was placed to your phone.  Keep in mind, we ONLY use this type of outreach in a life-safety emergency situation and will never call you from that database for any other reason, as we have a strict agreement with Verizon to never use your contact information otherwise.

There’s an app for that! You can also download a free app from the iStore (for Apple devices) or Google Play (for Android devices) to get mobile app notifications.

I have some other questions.  Where can I get information? We invite you to visit the Division of Fire’s web page at www.henricofire.org for more information on the system.  Scroll down to the Prevention section and you will see the icon for Henrico Alert.  Or, you can call our Office of Emergency Management at 804-501-7183, or email emergencymanager@co.henrico.va.us for more information.