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Saving lives with Hi-Lo

Warning sound alerts neighborhoods of evacuations

SAN DIEGO COUNTY – The San Diego County Sheriff's Department joined law enforcement and fire agencies on Thursday, May 4 to launch a public education campaign on the Hi-Lo.

This unique sound is different from sirens people hear when deputies, officers, paramedics and firefighters respond to emergency calls.

Hi-Lo is very loud and distinct. The Sheriff’s Department will only use this critical warning system to inform communities of an evacuation order in the event of natural disasters, extreme emergencies and critical incidents such as:

• Wildfires

• Flash floods

• Earthquakes

• Tsunami

• Terrorism

• Bomb threat

• SWAT standoff

• Gas leaks

• Hazmat spills

• Sinkholes

They just started the process of installing the Hi-Lo in Sheriff's Department patrol vehicles. However, it is essential to begin educating communities about the Hi-Lo and its significance. Residents can avoid panic and confusion in the future if they know what to do when they hear the Hi-Lo. By understanding the Hi-Lo and its association with evacuation, they can be better prepared for emergencies and respond more quickly to protect themselves and their families.

Hi-Lo alerts entire neighborhoods that they are in immediate danger. The goal is to reach as many people as possible with emergency instructions even when phone lines are not working or there are no internet or mobile networks available.

When they hear the Hi-Lo, it is time to go! Heed the warning and evacuate immediately because their safety depends on it.

Being prepared is the key to staying safe. To learn more about the Hi-Lo and how to plan for disasters and emergencies, visit

Submitted by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.


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