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San Diego County will add earthquake alerts to emergency app

Shake Alert technology is already offered on the state's MyShake app.

SAN DIEGO — The County of San Diego picked the annual Great California ShakeOut Day on Thursday to announce a future addition to its emergency notification app.

Early earthquake notifications will be added next year to the county's free app, which provides alerts and evacuation maps during county emergencies, like wildfires.

“The goal is to have Shake Alert publicly available on the San Diego emergency app by mid-2021,” said San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced more than a year ago the launch of the statewide MyShake app, which uses the same USGS Shake Alert information to give users several seconds of early warning that an earthquake is underway.

San Diego County said it is still waiting for final approval from USGS to include Shake Alert info in the county emergency app.

“You may only have seconds before strong shaking knocks you down, or even drops something on top of you,” said Cox.

The truth be told, most people in San Diego county already can receive earthquake alerts on their smartphones without even downloading an app.

The built-in notifications are called wireless emergency alerts, similar to amber alerts. They get sent automatically to Android and iPhone devices when “light shaking” from an earthquake more than magnitude 5.0 will be felt.

Right out of the box, iPhone and Android smartphones are set up to accept wireless emergency alerts.  As long as you don't turn off the notifications in the settings, you will receive earthquake early warning alerts, according to the USGS.

San Diego County plans to bundle Shake Alert into its existing emergency app, so customers can receive all county emergency notifications and evacuation maps in the same place.