The Reverse 911 System

Does your town have a reverse 911 system in place? Do you know whether or not you have opted in to that service? It’s imperative that you check!

Reverse 911 systems allow town and city governments to communicate emergency and important information to the entire city or town or to specific sections of it. In a matter of a few hours, the service allows city officials to alert all of their residents to an important matter.

Nationally, this system has had much success in notifying the public with regards to important and emergency issues, so many local cities and towns have implanted this system.

Hurricane Irene is a perfect example of how and when the Reverse 911 system might be used. Several towns in Rhode Island were under tornado watches during the storm and the citizens were quickly alerted via Reverse 911 calls to their residences. Some cities and towns in the western part of the state also utilized their Reverse 911 system to alert citizens about closed roads, boil water orders and severe flooding.

Some examples of issues that a reverse 911 system might alert you to include:

  • Parking restrictions during snow storms
  • Boil water orders
  • Tornado warnings
  • Locations where residents can find assistance following severe weather
  • Evacuation orders

Some local cities and towns require residents to opt-in to their reverse 911 system and some systems do not automatically collect cell and internet phone provider numbers (i.e. Vonage) so it’s important that you verify your inclusion in your local government’s system.

Start by checking your local city or town’s website. Most have a link to register for their Reverse 911 system. If you’re unable to locate your local information online, try calling your city or town clerk’s office for more information.