The importance of having multiple ways of getting information on pending severe weather was more than evident during the past few weeks in Mayfield, Graves County and western Kentucky.

Since a strong storm, packing damaging winds, barreled through the Pryorsburg and Cuba communities on June 21, the region has seen numerous waves of abrupt storms.

Televised reports and weather radios are primary tools to be informed on pending severe weather.

Graves County officials also have another tool that can serve as an additional safeguard to stay alert.

The Code Red emergency notification system is free and will send National Weather Service alerts to a person's cell phone.

Graves County Emergency Management Director Tracy Warner's goal is to increase awareness of the free service to help blanket the county. She said during one of the recent storms that struck near Melber on the Graves-McCracken county line, only four people in the area were signed up with the Code Red system.

"All of them got a phone call and text message for being signed up," Warner said. "So we do need to get more people on board with this."

Registering involves accessing the Graves County website (www.gravescountyky.com) and clicking on the Emergency Management tab under the County Government dropbox menu on the home page. Once on the Office of Emergency Management page, click on "Community Notification Enrollment" to begin the sign-up process.

"Put your address in and that's where the alert will be sent," Warner said.

Getting a Code Red alert message is also a faster process than if she needed to set off the county's tornado siren system, which involves contacting the dispatch center at Kentucky State Police Post 1.

"The National Weather Service, as soon as they put a warning out there, it automatically sends one," she said. "I have to call and say to set (the sirens) off. That's a little time. You're looking at 2-3 minutes, where they can get this alert quicker."

Warner also noted that most people have their cell phones with them or close by. If a storm knocked out power or damaged a siren, even a half-charged cell phone would still receive the alert.

"It's always good to have more ways to get information across," she said.

The alerts can also specify tornado, severe thunderstorms or flooding. Mayfield Electric and Water utilizes the county's Code Red for boil water notices and map out areas where the alert specifically needs to be sent.

Emergency management is also examining how to use the Code Red system in a similar way and alert those registered in a specific section of the county of road closures due to accidents or even missing children notices.

But first, she said, is making people aware of the service and signing them up. One of her plans is to possibly attend school registration events to register people.

Another way to keep people safe in the line of storms is through training weather spotters. Warner hopes to secure the NWS for a training session this fall that can provide more eyes on the skies.

Eric Walker is the sports editor for The Mayfield Messenger. He has also worked as a staff writer for the Messenger, editor for the Murray Ledger & Times, and in public relations. He is married with two sons.