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Published on Friday, May 19, 2017

New non-English emergency notice requirements signed into law

SB 5046 was signed into law on May 16, creating a new requirement for local emergency management organizations. Cities and towns are either 1.) a local emergency management organization themselves, or 2.) a member of a joint local emergency management organization (see RCW 38.52.070 for more info).

The new law requires each local emergency management organization that produces an emergency management plan to include a section that details plans for providing emergency notices of “life-safety information” to “significant population segments” of non-English speaking persons within their jurisdiction.

The law defines “life safety information” as: “information provided to people during a response to a life-threatening emergency or disaster informing them of actions they can take to preserve their safety. Such information may include, but is not limited to, information regarding evacuation, sheltering, sheltering-in-place, facility lockdown, and where to obtain food and water.”

The law defines “significant population segment” as: “each limited English proficiency language group that constitutes five percent or one thousand residents, whichever is less, of the population of persons eligible to be served or likely to be affected within a city, town, or county. The office of financial management forecasting division's limited English proficiency population estimates are the demographic data set for determining eligible limited English proficiency language groups.”

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