Protect yourself from bad weather

Hagen: Use more than outdoor warning sirens to be alert for tornadoes

Anyone wanting to be alerted to severe weather should not depend solely upon the outdoor warning sirens, according to Webster County Emergency Management Coordinator Dylan Hagen.

Recently, with the installation of some new tornado sirens in Otho and Lehigh, he was made aware of concerns among residents that they couldn’t hear the outdoor siren while they were inside their homes.

But Hagen said that’s actually how it’s supposed to be.

“They’re outdoor warning sirens, so they’re meant to be heard outdoors,” he said. “They’re not made to be heard indoors. If you can hear them inside, that’s good, but when you’re inside your house, you need to have other means of alerts.”

Instead of depending on just the outdoor siren, Hagen suggested several other options for people to be alerted to bad weather.

One of those options is a weather radio, which he said can be purchased for about $30.

There is also a service called Webster County Alerts, which can be found on Webster County’s website as well as the Webster County Emergency Management Facebook page.

Those who sign up can pick and choose which alerts they want to receive, as well as which areas and towns in Webster County they want to be notified on.

Hagen added that there are several other apps that offer weather alerts.

He’s concerned that people may think the outdoor sirens are the only alerts available.

“I’ve heard ‘It won’t wake me up,'” Hagen said. “That’s not the purpose of these sirens. They’re for outdoor warning. When you’re in your home in the middle of the night, you need to have some other notification.”

Weather radios, as an example, work well because they will emit a loud tone as an alert if a warning is issued.

“That will wake them up, instead of relying on the sirens,” he said.

According to Hagen, there are 32 outdoor warning sirens in Webster County.

The county is in the process of making sure all the sirens are synched up to WeatherWarn, the software Webster County uses for weather alerts.

“With this new WeatherWarn, there will not be a countywide siren activation anymore,” he said. “It’ll strictly be for the warned area that’s issued by the (National) Weather Service for the tornado warning.”

For example, Hagen said if a tornado warning is issued for Harcourt or Dayton, the siren in Clare will not go off.

The new system, he added, will cause less confusion when it comes to which areas are under an alert.

“You know now, if your siren goes off, it means that a storm is imminent,” he said. “It’s not going to be on the opposite side of the county. If that siren’s going off in that town, that means that town is in some kind of danger.”