FAIRMONT - Martin County began offering the Code Red alert service last year and, for the most part, it has been successful.
"There have been some concerns regarding warnings," said LuAnn Akres, a local emergency manager. "Some people said they aren't receiving the warnings, but you need to be registered in the area of the warning. There have been cases where one person didn't get a warning call when their neighbor did, but it all depends on which area specifically the warning is issued [to]."
Code Red sends out emergency calls to affected residents whenever there is a severe thunderstorm, tornado or flash flood warning. There are also other instances in which Code Red can be used, such as when there is a need for an evacuation.
However, Akres points out that residents who do not have a landline will need to register for the program, and no one should automatically assume they are enrolled.
"We want to remind people that we have this program, and we encourage both businesses and residents to sign up, especially people with cell phones as their only phone," she said. "Our database was downloaded, but people still need to sign up to receive weather alerts."
Residents can enroll in the Code Red at the Martin County website www.co.martin.mn.us and follow the links to the Sheriff's Department and to the Code Red icon.
Another option for smartphone users is the Code Red mobile app available for iPhone and Droid. It is free to download.
"One of the things I've liked about the app is that if you're traveling through an area that has Code Red, it will warn you when you are headed into an area with a warning," Akres said.
Warnings will still come through for your registered home area, even if you are not there.
"It's a good thing to know," Akres said. "You can have someone check on your house, a pet, if you know that there are warnings for your home."
However, Akres stresses that preparation and plans on what to do in an emergency need to be in place well before the warnings are issued.
"The No. 1 thing you can do is prepare for your own personal communication and safety," she said. "There is a website, ready.gov, that has tips for both family and business planning."
The site not only has a downloadable outline for a family emergency plan, it also suggests making emergency plans for other areas you may be when disaster hits, as well as tips on what to include and replace in emergency kits.
"You should have a plan to be able to take care of yourself and your family for a few days if necessary," Akres said. "It's important to understand how things work when emergencies hit the area."