County adopts alert system

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When the next severe storm or other potentially catastrophic weather event hits, Denton County residents will have another tool to help them prepare.

Code Red, an emergency notification system that is used by many area cities, is going countywide. Residents can sign up for the system and be notified of imminent weather emergencies and what can be done before and when they hit.

“The benefit of having a system is giving you the warning and information and detailed description of what is actually occurring and precautionary measures to take,” said Jody Gonzalez, Denton County emergency services director.

“The more people we can get signed up and notified there is severe pending weather, the more time to get things in order, notify family members in the area.” he said. “The more advanced notification we can get out to the citizens, the more prepared they will be. It’s that simple.”

Gonzalez provided details about the system and its features and how it will benefit residents to county commissioners Tuesday morning.

Residents can sign up for alerts at the county website, www.dentoncounty.com, and choose what types of emergencies they wish to be notified about. The system can send email and text messages and make automated phone calls.

Gonzalez said it is a self-registration portal where users can create their own account using multiple phone numbers.

“If a [user] wanted to, they could register their spouse and children’s cellphone numbers and have them all under one account,” he said.

The Code Red system is part of the Emergency Communications Network, a provider of out-bound notification services to a number of municipalities around the country.

Currently 23 of the county’s 45 municipalities have some kind of notification system, many of them using Code Red.

“A key point we wanted to stress is anyone is welcome to sign up with the county,” Gonzalez said. “If you live in Denton County, we welcome you to sign up for our system. We also recommend you sign up for your city system as well, the key is to get you signed up so you get alerts.”

In the long run, Gonzalaez said he is looking at using Code Red to make use of the national Integrated Public Alert and Warning System. It will give the emergency management department the ability to notify every cellphone off a specific tower for all the cellphones in a certain area registered with the county or not.

The system would only be used for severe disaster situations. He said the county is awaiting certification to be able to use the system.

He also encouraged residents to have weather radios in their homes and businesses.

“This Code Red system is simply one tool in the tool box of preparedness,” he said. “This doesn’t replace any of the warning systems that exist.”

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.


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