New Sirens Pump Up the Volume,
But Don't Replace Broadcast Warnings

(April 16, 2002) – The Saturday 12 o'clock siren test is something many of us have heard all our lives. That tradition is going to change drastically on Saturday, April 20. The sirens will go off at noon, but that’s about the only thing that’s the same.

The City's new $4.5 million storm siren system will be tested city-wide for the first time. The system is more than four times the size of the old one, and covers areas of the City that weren’t reached by the old system.

The new sirens will be tested every Saturday, just as the old system was, weather permitting.

The 181 sirens were bought with the Police and Fire Equipment dedicated one half-cent sales tax passed by voters on March 14, 2000.

The tax, first levied in July, 2000, expires in March, 2003.

The siren network replaces the cold war-era system of 44 sirens.

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But these state-of-the-art outdoor sirens are still just one part of the complete storm warning system. Emergency officials urge residents to rely on tv and radio, rather than sirens. Not only is the cold war over, but technology has changed our lives. Air conditioning and closed windows mean you can't count on hearing an outdoor siren.

So when you hear the siren, turn on your tv or radio for specific information.

Central public shelters, another war era concept, are not useful for storm protection in cities. Driving to a shelter in severe weather can put citizens in greater danger.

Emergency services experts now advocate "shelter in place," in a basement, a specially-built storm shelter or an interior room of the house.