Emergency sirens are used to warn communities of severe weather and other impending dangers. They are the best means available when attempting to alert the general public in a timely manner. Whether you are outside, in your car, or simply away from a television or radio, the sound of your local emergency siren may be the only way for a warning to reach you.
Typical emergency warning sirens can emit up to three different alarm signals. Most often, the sound used is called an ‘alert,’ which is the steady siren sound you hear when there is a weather-related emergency approaching your area. In case of a military situation, emergency sirens will produce a wailing sound called the ‘attack’ alarm. And a warbling sound, much like the hi-lo alarm on a fire engine, is the third possible rendition. More advanced sirens can also send out broadcast messages with specific instructions for residents to follow. At 135 decibels, these sirens can cover a wide radius.
With so many emergency situations occurring during sleeping hours, warning sirens are often the only way to notify communities of potential dangers. Here are examples of some of the hazards emergency sirens can reveal:
- Severe Thunderstorm
- Wild Fire Activity
- Volcanic Eruption
- Military Attack
- Hazardous Material Release/Spill
Unfortunately, studies show that many people do not take the warnings seriously and others are not certain about what they should do when they hear such an alarm. Some people even go outside (the last thing you should do) to see what is going on, while others simply ignore emergency sirens altogether. The following are basic guidelines detailing what to do next time you hear your neighborhood’s emergency warning sirens.
- In a typical weather-related emergency, your first course of action if you hear emergency sirens is to close and lock all doors and windows. Then find the safest place in your home, a basement, an interior room, or the bathtub. (Hopefully you have already prepared for such an event and have some basic supplies and an emergency radio available to you while you wait out the danger.)
- In the case of a hazardous material situation, you should follow similar guidelines as above, but also shut down the ventilation system in your home. An emergency radio can alert you to when the situation has passed, or if the matter has worsened and you need to evacuate.
- Wild fires, volcanic activity, and coastal hurricanes often require residents to evacuate. Once the emergency sirens have sounded their alerts, you may not have a lot of time to gather your belongings. Therefore, it is best to have a predetermined evacuation plan that should include the following:
- Plan to follow your city’s evacuation route. Do not take short-cuts, in case roads have been blocked off.
- Have a predetermined place to evacuate, such as an out of town friend’s house or a local shelter.
- Keep a full tank of gas in your car.
- Make sure someone outside of town knows where you are going.
- If time allows, unplug most appliances (you may want to keep refrigerator plugged in) and secure the house before leaving.
- If time allows, gather personal paperwork.
- Leave early enough to avoid long traffic delays.
Without a doubt, emergency sirens can be a lifesaver. But, their success is based on people being responsible and taking shelter or packing up once that first warning blast hits their ears. If you live in an area with frequent warnings, like the part of our country known as tornado alley for example, you may have to endure several alarms every year. Just remember, when it comes to your life, it really is better to be safe than sorry.…