CHESHIRE — Town officials are reminding residents to register phone numbers for Cheshire’s emergency alert system following a prison escape.
Fire and police department leaders can use CodeRED to send a message to thousands of phones and did so on Halloween when an inmate escaped from Cheshire Correctional Institution. Some residents said they didn’t get the call.
Fire Chief Jack Casner said more and more residents are dropping their land lines and haven’t yet registered their cell phones.
“More and more people are disconnecting their hardwired phones to their houses. When they do that, they need to register their cell phones,” he said.
When residents change phone carriers they also need to re-register their information, even if their number remains the same. Casner said multiple registrations won’t result in multiple calls.
“If you put your number in six times, you’re only getting one call,” he said.
The system was chosen by Casner in 2008 for its low call failure rate.
Residents can enter their land line or mobile numbers by visiting www.cheshirect.org and clicking on the CodeRed logo. CodeRed calls come from phone numbers 866-419-5000 and 855-969-4636.
Town Council Chairman Rob Oris said the system is a good way to get out emergency information quickly. He’s heard from some who are worried about getting woken in the night by a CodeRED call, but said it’s better to err on the side of caution with public safety issues.
“It’s a good system to have in place,” he said.
The town sent out messages using CodeRED four times last year.
“We don’t use it often,” Casner said. “We have a pretty strict policy.”
Severe weather and public safety issues, such as the prison escape, are examples of when it’s used. Casner said other towns and cities use similar systems for things like fundraisers and community events, which he feels decreases its effectiveness.
“We don’t want to overuse that,” he said.
The most recent call went to nearly 30,000 numbers, of which 16,523 were reached. Casner said residents and those who work in town benefit from hearing emergency information.