2-1-1 versus 9-1-1

Submitted / The Outlook

Whatever happens Wednesday night, Alabamians can depend on the 2-1-1 hotline for real-time information says Lake Martin Area United Way, a partner of the 2-1-1 initiative.

Lake Martin Area United Way executive director Sharon Fuller is asking locals to spread the word on the difference between 9-1-1 and 2-1-1 so the former can stay open for emergency situations.

"Two-one-one is, 'I have a tree on my house, who do I call,'" Fuller said. "Or, I'm stuck on the 459 in Birmingham and I need help... It's emergency but not life-threatening."

The 2-1-1 information line is also the place to call for locals volunteering assistance.

In the case of the severe weather anticipated for Wednesday night, including tornadoes, straight-line winds and hail, locals can dial 2-1-1 to find their nearest shelter, Fuller said. Dispatchers respond according to zip code so callers can be assured they won't be bombarded with the location of every shelter in Alabama. Since the line is statewide, callers can also inquire on behalf of family members in other locations.

Either way, 9-1-1 is reserved for life-threatening or property emergencies.

"People want to call 9-1-1, and they don't need to get bogged down," Fuller said.