Payette County officials are anticipating big crowds for the upcoming total solar eclipse on Aug. 21.
And with thousands of non-locals converging on the county, some problems are expected to arise, including an overload on cell phone towers.
The sheriff's office said they expect lower reliability in cell phone service during the days leading up to the eclipse.
To combat the loss of signal, the county has set up a 911 text option for people to report emergencies.
"Texting to 911 is reserved for times when you are unable to make a voice 911 call and needs to be used responsibly and for emergencies only," said Lt. Andy Creech. "If a person is able to call, it is the preferred method of contacting 911."
Officials say anyone who texts 911 will need to include the following information:
- Location of incident,
- Parties Involved,
- Injuries (if any),
- Reporting party information,
- Layout of incident,
- Other pertinent information for first responders
The sheriff's office is also warning about increased travel times due to higher-than-normal vehicle traffic, and encourage anyone driving in the area to prepare a 72-hour emergency kit.
“Be wary of traffic and reschedule your day around the imminent high traffic," said Capt. John Plaza of the Payette City Police Department. "It would be in your best interest to not travel on that Monday, but if you do, be prepared for any situation that could arise."
Plaza says local agencies will have extra officers and emergency personnel on duty.
The Idaho Office of Emergency Management has a list of suggested items for a family preparedness kit. The list includes items such as: bottled water, battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries, two-day supply of non-perishable food, and hard copies of local maps.
“Purchase surplus supplies of non-perishable foods, bottled water, gasoline, cash, and all necessary medications during the first parts of August, 2017 to prepare for shortages," Creech said. "As seen during the winter months, shelves can become bare with higher demand."
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