New alert system helping keep people safe in emergencies

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Severe Weather

MCCORMICK, S.C. (WRDW) -- It's an alert system that you sign up for so whenever we have bad weather like we did last night, you'll get a direct call.

"A lot safer," that's how Kevin Sides feels now that he gets codeRED alerts.

"Knowing ahead of time, that's all pluses to me," he said.

It's an alert system that calls your phone whenever there's an emergency. So, when weather in your area starts to get severe, you'll get a call telling you what's going on.

McCormick County implemented the system only a few weeks ago.

"They can send out and wake up the whole county, if needed, in about two to three minutes," McCormick Emergency Services Coordinator Jason Brown said.

It's the county's first notification system, and it's already paying off.

"Without [it], you just stay tense all the time. Like last night, we had some bad weather. I knew that if it got that bad, I would get a phone call either at the house or on my cellphone," Lynthia Brown said.

While McCormick County's weather wasn't bad enough to get an alert last night, Aiken County neighbors sure did.

"There was one message last night concerning the severe thunderstorm warning," said Aiken County Emergency Services Director Tommy Thompson.

Last night, 4,594 citizens, 184 businesses and 598 mobile home residents received alerts about the storm. Thompson says this is one of the best ways to keep people safe in an emergency.

"Information is the best cure for panic. If a person knows what's going on, they can better know what to do and how to respond to it," he said.

Aiken County has only had the system for about two years.

Thompson says this kind of alert is helpful in more than weather emergencies.

"This service would have been very beneficial during Graniteville," he said.

He's referring to a tragedy in 2005 when a train derailed, spilling hazardous material all through the town.

Now, they feel ready for anything.

"This is good if we have any other hazardous material incidents or fires. Lets people know whether to stay in place or whether to evacuate," Thompson said.

The number will come up on caller ID as an 800 number. A lot of people haven't picked up, because they think it could be a telemarketer.

The numbers will show up as the following on your caller ID:

  • Emergency Notifications: (866) 419-5000
  • General Notifications: (855) 969-4636
  • Weather Warning: (800) 566-9780

Right now, Burke, McCormick and Aiken counties are the only ones that have this. To sign up, go to your county website and click on CodeRED.

County CodeRED websites:

Also remember, you can sign up for News 12's text alerts.

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