• Thelma Grimes

After the Marshall Fire devastated our region there has been a lot of talk about what we can do to prepare. How can we as citizens protect ourselves and be ready if it were to happen to our town or county?

While fire officials have emphasized that the conditions that made the Marshall Fire so catastrophic could not have been helped, given the wind and heat, there are ways to better prepare citizens to safely evacuate and prevent fire officials from having to take extra time by knocking on doors and spreading the word on foot.

That system is CodeRed. From Douglas County to Arapahoe County to Jefferson County, leaders are stressing the need for more residents to get signed up for this emergency alert system, allowing state and local agencies to deliver geo-targeted, time-sensitive information to individuals who have signed up to receive alerts.

In the case of the Marshall Fire, the system allowed authorities to tell citizens who were signed up to evacuate. For those not on the emergency alert system, it required more time to find them and notify all of them.

The CodeRed system allows notifications to be sent via email, SMS, voice, mobile app push notifications, IPAWS and more depending on the severity of the situation. To learn more and see a video explaining the importance of this technology, visit onsolve.com.

In taking the steps myself, I found it is not an overly difficult process to get signed up. It took less than two minutes to enter a username, a password and fill in my address and the method I would like to receive the alerts. I chose texts since, like everyone, my phone is always with me.

On the OnSolve website, registration steps include:

Use Google, Facebook or Twitter credentials to create an account for a quick log-in process. Include multiple points of contact to ensure public safety officials will be able to reach you in an emergency. Opt-in to receive general notifications to receive community bulletins. Make sure you keep this information up to date, especially in the even to moving.

When a tragedy strikes so close to home, it is important to listen to the emergency response providers on what we can do at home to protect ourselves and assure efficiency in battling whatever the emergency may be.

Firefighters and local authorities will also stress that the more people signed up to get emergency alerts the better, because it will decrease their requirements to go door-to-door to notify residents of an impending disaster.

Their time is better used fighting the source of the emergency rather than notifying residents who could have been told immediately through the CodeRed system.