The Pryor Times

April 19, 2013

New tornado sirens coming soon

— After this week's storms, Mayes County Emergency Management is seeking to educate people on the tornado warning system.

Director Johnny Janzen stresses that the outdoor warning system is exactly that, a warning system designed to be heard outdoors.

“These sirens are not designed to wake you up in your house. Today’s houses are more air tight and sound proof,” said Janzen. “If you are relying on these outdoor sirens to wake you up and be your only emergency alert system you are putting yourself in danger.”

Emergency Management encourages each household to purchase a NOAA weather radio. They can be purchased at places like Wal-Mart and Radio Shack.

They are operated by the National Weather Service and automatically activate when a tornado warning is issued in the programmed county.

“Because they are operated by the National Weather Service there is no delay. The warning doesn’t have to be called in to a series of people before someone sends the alert, it is automatic,” said Janzen. “It is loud and will absolutely wake you up. It’s a much more reliable system.”

Janzen says the radios cost roughly $30, but are a smart investment.

After this week’s tornado activity a few areas of the county reported not hearing their sirens.

“People need to be aware of the purpose of the outdoor sirens. There are no sirens being made that are loud enough to be counted on indoors,” said Janzen.

“The city of Pryor recently bought new sirens, they came in Wednesday and will but put up very soon. But even the new ones are not designed to be heard perfectly indoors,” said Janzen.

He reports that there was an overwhelming number of phone calls made to 911 while sirens were going off with

people unsure of the


“There are two reasons tornado sirens would go off during a storm,” said Janzen. “Either the National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning in that area or one of our trained professionals have seen one.”

Janzen also wants people to know that they no longer issue an all-clear siren.

“The sirens run on a three minute cycle meaning you’ll hear sirens for three minutes. Just because the siren stops does not mean it’s safe to come out,” said Janzen.

FEMA does not suggest that communities issue an all-clear as tornados are unpredictable and an all-clear can

create a false sense of security. Often these storms follow closely one behind another, issuing an all-clear too soon could leave people unprotected for a following storm.

A mass notification system is in place that will provide emergency alerts on mobile devices.

“This system works great for things like Amber Alerts, flash flood warnings and road closings. It is not ideal for time sensitive weather notifications such as tornados. It is not a time-efficient system, so it’s best not to rely solely on those,” said Janzen.