Did you know the majority of the world’s tornadoes usually occur in the United States? In the past several years, we’ve seen averages in excess of 1200, most often between the months of April and June across the Great Plains and adjacent states. Due to this trend, some regions of the country recognize April as Tornado Awareness month. No matter where you’re located, with tornado season rapidly approaching, now’s the perfect time for an annual checkup on your emergency alerting capabilities.
Emergency Notification: What’s It All About?
When your citizens are in the path of a tornado, advance warning is crucial. But effective alerting doesn’t end there. Everyone needs real-time instructions, including evacuation and shelter-in-place timetables, route advisories and two-way communications to mark themselves safe or request help before and during the storm. In the aftermath, updates on power outages, boil water notices and locations to seek emergency medical care, food and water are all vital to immediate and long-term community recovery.
A single trusted and reliable source of timely information and actionable advisories gives your citizens the ability to take proactive measures to keep themselves safe. It also provides a sense of connection and confidence during times of literal and metaphorical darkness. An easily navigated dashboard enables officials to reach the right people anytime, anywhere, from any internet-connected device, including a mobile app.
OnSolve CodeRED is a SaaS-based solution that agencies can use to deliver geo-targeted, time-sensitive alerts to virtually any communications device. Automated, location-based alerts on critical events generated by The Weather Company® eliminate the manual process of detecting an event. Additional features like language translation and multi-channel alerting ensure everyone receives and understands the message.
A customizable account portal allows people to create an account and register for alerts. Users can update their contact information any time with just a few clicks, so they’re always kept in the loop.
Once the system is in place, officials can access the centralized operating hub, create polls and view responses in real time. This helps public safety leaders get a better sense of the population’s overall well-being during tornadoes and other critical events.
From residents to first responders to agency staff, CodeRED keeps everyone informed and connected. Here are a few real-world examples:
CodeRED Saves Lives in Benton County, TN
Shortly after his election, Benton County Mayor Brett Lashlee recognized the risk posed by delayed coverage of weather forecasts and emergency notifications due to the challenging topography of the region. He acted quickly to partner with OnSolve and incorporated the alerting system into the county’s emergency response strategy.
In March of 2020 his foresight paid off – residents were able to protect themselves from a severe tornado. After recognizing the incoming storm, a volunteer Weather Spotter notified the National Weather Service. A CodeRED alert was triggered, and residents throughout the county were informed of the danger within minutes. Many recipients reached shelter just in time, including one family who credits the alert with saving their lives. The tornado destroyed their home moments after they made it to safety unharmed.
Without the efficient collaboration facilitated by CodeRED, there likely would have been significantly greater casualties. Mayor Lashlee said, “We have to count our blessings that lives were saved simply because of the CodeRED notifications that were going off. The impact and value of CodeRED was front and center the whole way.”
The county is now using this system for other severe weather alerts, as well as road closures and construction. In addition, Benton has been recognized as a StormReady county by the National Weather Service.
CodeRED Reaches More Rural Residents
As the traditional method of alerting people in the path of a storm, tornado sirens can be difficult to hear indoors and in remote locations. They’re also cost-prohibitive for many government offices to install and maintain. When one rural county needed a replacement, they looked to CodeRED.
Since transitioning to this technology, the county has been able to deliver rapid safety alerts and warning messages to their population of over 25,000 residents. During this time, the system has been successfully implemented to handle emergencies of all kinds. Public safety officials rely on CodeRED to deliver critical communications that are rapid, relevant and convenient for all users.
In one particular close call, the system was able to alert residents eight minutes before an EF-3 tornado passed through their town. Because these alerts can be sent any time, from any device, messages can go out at a moment’s notice. Subscription is easy, and preferences can be set for language and a host of other options, ensuring your residents stay informed around the clock.
Tornadoes are on their own schedule. When every second counts, advance warning and actionable instructions are life-saving advantages.
Learn more about how CodeRED helps agencies keep their communities safe and informed.