Originally published Saturday, May 12, 2018 at 06:05a.m.

On Friday many of us watched in anguish as multiple wildfires ignited near the Viewpoint subdivision in Prescott Valley. The fires quickly spread, causing mandatory evacuations in several neighboring communities, including Poquito Valley and Antelope Meadows. Homes and other structures were burned, lives were threatened, including the lives of our firefighters and other first responders.

As this editorial was being written more than 400 structures were still being threatened and evacuations were in place. The cause of the fires is unknown and under investigation.

We thank the more than 200 fire personnel, local cooperating agencies and aircraft teams working to stop the forward progression of this fire.

One of the most important tools for residents and emergency personnel during a local disaster is the ability to communicate quickly. Over the scanners we could hear dispatch and emergency responders diligently trying to make contact with property owners whose homes were in the path of the fire.

Law enforcement has the phone numbers of all the land lines for county residents, but that list is only updated twice a year. In addition, many of us are deciding against using a land line and solely using mobile phones.

Fortunately, when it comes to communication we live in an era unlike any other. Most of us have a communication super-tool right in our pockets or purse.

With the smell of smoke still in the air and a dry, dangerous summer ahead of us, there is no better time than now to sign up for the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office CodeRED emergency notification system. You can sign up on the website or by downloading the app.

If a life-threatening emergency breaks out in your neighborhood, authorities can activate the CodeRED system and you will receive an alert telling you what’s happening, and what you need to do to remain safe.

When signing up for the service, you can specify how you want to be notified and keep all your contact information current.

The app allows you to set the distance from which to receive incident alerts -- anywhere from within a mile of your home or phone, or greater distances to be aware of major events in the region.

You can also follow AZEIN (Arizona Emergency Information Network) to keep up with any situations happening around the region. 

Yesterday’s fires are a harsh reminder that emergencies can happen to anyone at any time. One way to protect ourselves is to take the time now to sign up for CodeRED or download the app on our phones today.

You can sign up via the YCSO’s website at the link below. It’s a simple and fast process. It may be the most important five minutes you’ve ever invested.

Get more safely connected today by visiting www.ycsoaz.gov, then scroll down and click on the link by the CodeRED Sign-up icon.

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