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Column: We're safer, thanks to CodeRED

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Goodhue County originally purchased CodeRED Mass Notification to be used as a system to warn citizens of community public safety concerns. Such notifications might include missing children or adults, nuclear events that might require citizens to evacuate an area or to shelter in place, unexpected traffic detours, train derailments or chemical spills.

The weather alerts came along later and the county quickly added that feature to our contract as an additional tool to help make Goodhue County citizens safer.

The original CodeRED database includes all landlines in Goodhue County. If you want to be alerted by cellphone, text or email, you need to enroll in the CodeRED database. If you enroll for the weather alerts, your information will be included in the original CodeRED database as well.

Severe Weather Awareness Week is recognized in April every year to make us aware that tornado season has arrived. Tornados can happen during almost any month in Minnesota, but statistics show that most tornadoes happen in the timeframe between May and August. Although in Minnesota, tornados have occurred in every month from March through November so we should never become too complacent that it can’t happen just because it’s the wrong season.

When the National Weather Service notifies the Goodhue County Dispatch Center that the county has entered into a tornado warning, dispatch staff activates all of the outdoor sirens throughout the county. People need to seek safety indoors and follow their emergency action plan and move to their designated safe shelter.

Once in place, you should listen to radio, TV or weather radio warnings to find out the latest information.

Goodhue County does not activate the sirens a second time for an all clear.

The sirens are meant to warn people that are located outdoors of severe weather or other events that could be of danger. Many people that are indoors are unable to hear the sirens when they are activated or, if they live outside of city limits, there are not any sirens in their area. In several townships around Red Wing there are sirens installed courtesy of the Prairie Island nuclear plant, but the majority of the townships in the county have no outdoor sirens, so citizens must rely on other devices to alert them of severe weather.

To remedy the situation, approximately two years ago Goodhue County added CodeRED weather alerts to the existing CodeRED Mass Notification to provide another tool to warn citizens of severe weather.

This is how the product works:

You need to go to the Goodhue County website and enroll your information, choose which weather alerts that you want to receive, when the NWS issues the weather warnings, ECN sends out the weather alerts based on the projected path of the storm. If the path of the storm is not projected to go over your address, you will not receive an alert.

There are three types of weather alerts that you can subscribe to receive: severe thunderstorm warnings, tornado warnings and flash flood warnings. You will be alerted for whichever warning(s) you choose by whichever devices you register when enrolling.

If you have not yet signed up for the CodeRED, go to www.co.goodhue.mn.us/878/CodeRED and self-enroll or call Goodhue County Emergency Management at 651-267-2640 and we will help you get enrolled. It takes just a couple of minutes to register and it is free to all Goodhue County residents.

Sirens can fail to activate when they are needed. It is rare, but it can happen. By enrolling for CodeRED notifications your family members will have an added protective measure to ensure their safety.

Preparedness is the one of the best defenses in protecting your family and pets from severe weather and other hazards.

If you do not have an emergency action plan for your family and need assistance in creating it, go to www.fema.gov or www.ready.gov/american-red-cross. There are many tools that will help you create a plan that will work for your family.

Create an emergency action plan and register for the CodeRED Notifications. This could save your life.

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