Our Emergency Plan

Emergencies come in different sizes — from a pipe break causing a water quality issue on one street, to an earthquake impacting all of San Diego County. Our focus, throughout an emergency, is maintaining a safe water supply and providing the critical information our customers need.

Water Supply

Backup power supplies at our water treatment plant and pump stations assure that we can continue treating and distributing water when the electrical grid goes down.


Our EOC (emergency operations center), where we coordinate operations and communications with customers, agencies and media runs on solar power and a backup generator.

Shared Resources

Helix, other water agencies and cities have shared resources agreements, so equipment and key people can be allocated where and when they are needed.


Helix’s field operations, GIS and customer service staff coordinate to quickly identify impacted customers and broadcast recorded phone messages to them using Call-Em-All’s web-based software.


A link on our homepage will take customers to a blog post continuously updated with critical information. We will respond to customers who submit questions and comments.


We will continuously update Twitter with critical information and respond to customer questions.

Cedar Fire in 2003

 (Photo: San Diego Union Tribune)

Your Emergency Plan

Locating family and friends and making sure everyone is OK is the first priority in an emergency. 

Have a Plan

Make a family communications plan and choose your emergency channel, whether it’s text messaging, Twitter or another social media app.  You should also choose a place to meet in case you can’t communicate.

Text Beats Talk

Text uses less bandwidth than talking, so you, and everyone else, will have a better chance of getting through. Text messaging and social media apps are both good options.

Car Charger

If the electrical grid goes down, you can still charge your smartphone in your car — if you have a car charger.

Know Where to Find Information

When wildfires and other emergencies happen, go to our website at hwd.com or Twitter for the latest news. Helix, Cal Fire and other government agencies use Twitter to reach residents with updates and information. Here is how you install Twitter on your smartphone.

On an iPhone

1. Click on App Store icon
2. Search for Twitter
3. Click “Get” then “Install”
4. Sign up
5. Create a username

On an Android Phone

1. Click on Play Store icon
2. Search for Twitter
3. Click “Install”
4. Sign up
5. Create a username

Follow Helix

1. Click in “Search Twitter” field
2. Type “helixwater”
3. Click “Follow” on Helix’s Twitter page

Other sources of Helix information

If possible, we will continuously update critical water supply information and respond to customer questions on the following channels.




Other sources of County information

The county provides information on evacuations, shelters, road closures and other disaster-related services on the following channels:



SD Emergency smartphone app 



Make an Emergency Kit

Wildfire events in California and hurricane events around the country have shown that residents need to have 1-3 weeks of food and water. It can take much longer to restore utilities and basic services. The County of San Diego provides a comprehensive checklist of what to include in your emergency kit.

Go to readysandiego.org/resources/checklist_1.pdf

Know How to Store and Disinfect Water

If you don’t already have an emergency water supply, spend a few hours this weekend putting it together.

Water Storage

  • Store in a cool, dark place at least a week’s supply of drinking water for each family member (one gallon per person per day)
  • Store at least 2 gallons of water in your vehicle
  • Store additional water for hygiene, cooking, and pets
  • Replace your stored water every six months
  • Clean, heavy, opaque bottles with screw on lids are preferable for storing water

Alternate Water Sources

  • Ice
  • Water heater
  • Toilet tanks (not the bowl) if the water hasn’t been treated
  • Swimming pools (for hygiene purposes only). Drinking swimming pool water is not recommended because chemicals can build up to harmful levels

Water Disinfection

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and The American Red Cross recommend the following:

  • Boil for 5-10 minutes, or
  • Add 8 drops of non-concentrated household bleach solution per gallon of water or 5 drops of concentrated household bleach per gallon of clear water, mix well and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy, add 5-10 more drops of bleach. A slight smell or taste of chlorine indicates water is adequately disinfected, or
  • Add 20 drops of 2% USP tincture of iodine per gallon of water. If water is cloudy, add 20 more drops and let stand 30 minutes, or
  • Use commercial purification tablets and follow package instructions