Outdoor warning sirens are located throughout counties and are usually tested every month. In Lee County, the test occurs at noon on Wednesdays unless bad weather is forecast for the day. The tone usually tested is the one used for a tornado warning. It reminds me of the days when I’d hear the noon whistle at the railroad tie plant near my grandmother’s house in Kentucky.
Although we are accustomed to hearing the tornado warning siren, there are two other tones with which you should be familiar.
The three tones you might hear are as follows:
1. One long, steady tone is the warning for tornadoes. Take shelter immediately. Where? Go to a safe place, such as a basement, a ground-level floor, an interior hallway, or a bathroom. Get out of vehicles or mobile homes. Once safe, tune in to a local radio or television station for weather updates. You do have your battery-operated or hand-crank radio or television within reach, right?
2. A slow wail is the warning for an attack on the United States. If you hear this tone, get instructions by tuning in to a local radio or television station that provides Emergency Alert System (EAS) messages. If you have access to the Internet, check an EAS Web site for instructions.
3. A fast wail is the warning for a hazardous materials event. As with a slow wail warning, tune in to a local radio or television station for EAS instructions. If you have access to the Internet, check the EAS Web sites.
Lee County EMA has posted the tones in MP3 files. Listen to what each sounds like and means, and then become familiar with the appropriate action you should take.
For more information, visit these Web sites:
What is EAS? (NOAA Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services)