On the alert

Warning system available at Hamilton County parks

— Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Anne Blankenship Dylan Hagen, Hamilton County Emergency Management Director, taps in the keywords of the Alert Iowa warning system at Briggs Woods Park. Now, people using Briggs Woods Park, Bells Mill Park or Little Wall Lake can receive notices when severe weather is approaching.

Campers, hikers, fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy Hamilton County Parks this summer while remaining secure in the knowledge they will be notified of any potential severe weather.

Alert Iowa is a statewide mass notification and emergency messaging system. The system can be used by state and local authorities to quickly disseminate emergency information to residents in counties that utilize the system. Now, those using Briggs Woods Park, Little Wall Lake or Bells Mill Park can sign up to receive notices by texting keywords to 69310. The keywords for the parks are:

• Bells Mill Park — HAMCOBELLS

• Briggs Woods Park — HAMCOBRIGGS

• Little Wall Lake — HAMCOLWL

According to the Alert Iowa, the service itself is free, however standard texting rates will apply. They advise users to contact their wireless carrier to determine how and when charges are applied for text messages.

Dylan Hagen, Hamilton County Emergency Management Director, said the week of March 26-30 is Severe Weather Awareness Week.

“This is a good time to sign up for Alert Iowa and it’s simple to do with a cell phone,” he said. Each of the county parks has a prominent sign posted with directions for accessing the text alert system. At Briggs Woods Park, the sign is located near the entrance to the campgrounds.

Area residents can also access Alert Iowa for Hamilton County to receive news of severe weather or other emergencies. Visit www.hamiltoncounty.org and click on the Alert Iowa logo. There, residents can choose from a variety of alerts to receive and whether they wish to receive texts or voice messages.

During Severe Weather Awareness Week, Hagen said several topics will be highlighted by the National Weather Service in Des Moines. On Monday, it was severe thunderstorms. Tuesday, the topic is receiving warning information. On Wednesday, tornadoes will be highlighted. Family Preparedness is the theme for Thursday and on Friday, flooding is the topic. The information will be available on at weather.gov/desmoines.

If no severe weather is occurring or expected on Wednesday, the National Weather Service will conduct a tornado drill between 10 and 11 a.m. Hagen said the purpose of the drill is to ensure that Iowans can adequately receive a tornado warning and can practice any actions that would be taken in the event of a real tornado. Hagen said he encouraged area businesses to take part in the drill.