PITTSBURG — Few things cause Kansans to pay attention more than a tornado warning. Long before Dorothy ever went to Oz, residents of Kansas knew to keep a weather eye on the sky when storms threaten.
However, according to Crawford County Emergency Management Director Jason Vanbecelaere keeping a general eye on the weather sometimes isn’t enough. Even sirens, the longterm go to for the area for tornado warnings can be ineffective.
According to a release from Vanbecelaere buildings can muffle the sound of sirens.
“Sirens are considered an outdoor warning system, they may not be heard inside of a building,” Vanbecelaere.
In order to insure residents are aware of dangerous weather Crawford County, purchased the app Code Red. According to Vanbecelaere, the system allows the county to get important information out to residents including weather alerts, road closings, and and missing children. Weather alerts come directly from the National Weather Service.
“It will follow the warned area set by the National Weather Service,” Vanbecelaere said in his statement. “This will allow the public to also look at a map on the system to see where the weather is located.”
The app also allows the county to section off an area for alerts, so that only the people who are affected are contacted.
“For example if we needed to warn people in a certain block of Pittsburg of a water outage it will send a texted to their phone and call their landline,” Vanbecelaere said.
According to Vanbecelaere the app can also call landlines.
To sign up for the Code Red program residents should go to www.crawfordcountykansas.org and scroll down to the Code Red Icons. Vanbecelaere said that there are two options to sign up for. The Community Notification Enrollment allows the county to get critical information out to residents about things like evacuation notices, boil orders, or missing children. The second option, a mobile app, gives information based on the location of the cell phone being used.
“With technology and the use of cell phones, I would encourage everyone to get an app on their phone and learn how they work,” Vanbecelaere said.