Westchester County has announced a new system will send out information by e-mail or text message that would bring members of the public more “into the loop” during a large-scale emergency by allowing the county to contact them directly.

With the County Emergency Notification System (CENS) information can be sent by email and/or text messaging to mobile phones or devices before, during or after a major storm or other disaster. Residents can get immediate updates on what’s happening and find out what they should do or where they should go.

These “news bulletins” would supplement the reports the county feeds to television, radio and other sources. This is one more way to keep people informed but it should not replace individual or family emergency planning.

People can sign up to be contacted by going to and clicking on the emergency banner at the top of the page. All information will be kept confidential.

CENS is already used to notify local officials, county legislators, and county commissioners and emergency responders. Time permitting, the Department of Emergency Services will now be able to send out notices about a pending severe weather event such as a blizzard or other major storm directly to the public. Information can also be provided after the emergency about issues such as road or health hazards, supplies, re-entry to damaged areas, etc.

While this system will be helpful in an emergency, it is obviously dependent upon available power and working phone lines. Families should continue to take all necessary steps to prepare for an emergency, such as keeping battery-powered portable radios, flashlights and medicine on hand. For more tips, visit

In a major emergency, the Emergency Alert System will continue to be activated via broadcasts on both television and local radio stations and the public is encouraged, as always, to stay tuned to these local broadcasts for instructions and information.