Yesterday, the huge scrap yard fire in Redwood City filled our community with stinky black smoke. Regardless of whether this smoke is toxic (as pondered by some news outlets), clearly breathing such smoke isn't healthy.
Both Bayfront Park (city) and Flood Park (county) were evacuated and closed. Menlo Park police drove around the Suburban Park neighborhood (and perhaps others) using loudspeakers to let people know it would be best to stay indoors.
This demands a significant amount of resources, both police staff and fuel and most likely didn't reach everyone it should have.
Does Menlo Park have any kind of system for warning residents of emergencies? What if the problem had been a deadly, odorless gas?
My guess is that Menlo Park does not have an automated phone warning system like our larger neighbors, Redwood City and Palo Alto have.
Ages ago, I signed up for the City's email update system, which promises "updates on events, news, projects, and more." I've never received any messages from this system.
It seems to me that yesterday would have been a great time to use these email updates to warn all residents that outdoor activities might be dangerous while the smoke was lingering. It wouldn't reach most residents as quickly as a phone call, but it might be the best system we have.
I wish it had been used yesterday, even if only as practice for what might someday be a real emergency.