An ounce of prevention could help when needed

There’s a fire in your home. Or an intruder breaking in the back door. Maybe you’ve been carjacked in your driveway.

Obviously, these are not things we wish on any of you, but, unfortunately, these are things than can happen to any one of us. If any of these things do happen, or any other horribly-unfortunate incident, you are probably not going to be in a perfect frame of mind to relay a lot of pertinent information to your 911 dispatcher while you are calling in your emergency.

You could be confused. You could forget a small detail that might be important to your first responder. Or you could just not know what’s important or isn’t important when you call. It’s not like these are situations the majority of us find ourselves in on a consistent basis.

Fortunately, Sussex County launched Smart911 last week, an online service that allows residents to fill out a safety profile for their households that could come in very handy in case of an emergency.

“Smart911 is a free service which will allow all residents and visitors to Sussex County to provide information about themselves and their families to 911 prior to an emergency,” explained Sussex County Emergency Operations Center Director Joseph Thomas. “That’s significant.”

It is significant. By providing a layout of your home, and descriptions of the people who live in your home, firefighters can respond with much more information in hand as to where to look for people and how many people to be looking for when they get there. You can include if people have medical conditions that EMT personnel might need to know about or updated photos of your children if one happens to be missing one day.

And, yes, we had privacy concerns when we first heard of this service, but the company explained that third-party audits are done every year to ensure security, and there is a time limit on the information — forcing you to keep it updated, and reducing the risk of that information being out there longer than you intend.

To learn more, click the “Smart911” icon on the Sussex County website at