Get connected for safety

It seems we are all connected to one another all the time these days.

People of all ages have cell phones in their pockets everywhere they go. Children carry them at school, their parents carry them at work, and their grandparents take them shopping or out for the daily walk they enjoy during retirement.

Not only can friends and family members — and occasional telemarketers — call us on those phones, but they can also text us, email us and send us messages through social media. We receive alerts when our favorite sports teams score; we are notified when someone “tags” us in a social media photos; and, depending on how we have set our phones up to handle notifications, we may receive alerts about severe weather, a big sale at our favorite store or the latest fashion craze.

Some of these messages we receive can become annoying. But many others are quite important. In fact, some notifications can mean the difference between life and death.

For some time now, Belmont County 911 has utilized reverse calling to alert residents to danger. The center records a message containing information residents and businesses need to know then dials all of the homes and businesses in the affected region to play the message and spread the word. The Times Leader received such an automated call a few weeks ago, when convict Gregory Lekanudos walked away from the Eastern Ohio Correctional Center and was believed to be in Martins Ferry.

Residents of some areas of St. Clairsville received similar calls earlier this month when two separate chemical leaks occurred at the city’s wastewater treatment plant. They were either instructed to evacuate or to shelter in place.

One problem, though, occurred when evacuees did not receive a follow-up message stating it was safe for them to return home. That happened because they had failed to register their cell phones with the county’s CodeRED system.

That technology can be used to notify registered users of everything from severe weather to Amber Alerts, utility outages and road closures.

The county’s database already contains commercially available telephone numbers for Belmont County, but not all cell phones or Voice Over Internet Protocol phone numbers are included. Therefore, residents are asked to add their cell phone, VoIP phone and/or email address to the database.

Doing so is an easy process: Simply go online to, where you can read about the service. Scroll down and click on the CodeRED button to enroll.

From that point, one can either create an account or skip that step and simply review and submit information. The simple online form should take only a few minutes to complete.

Belmont County provides this valuable service free of charge and states that information provided by residents will be kept confidential. Therefore, we encourage all residents to register their cell phones for CodeRED alerts. Doing so could help you avoid inconvenience or even danger.