WICHITA, Kansas – Over the years, our technology and knowledge about tornadoes and severe thunderstorms have increased.
Yet, some people still depend on tornado sirens. When the sirens go off, there is an active tornado warning. Those sirens aren’t meant to be heard inside.
“We try to maintain the sirens in a way so that people that are outside can hear them, in places where they’re gonna be. The ball diamond, the malls, those kinds of places,” said John Crosby, Sedgwick County Emergency Management.
Throughout the year, the sirens are tested.
“Every single Monday that we tested the sirens, we were making 101 phone calls. Now, we have 147 sirens, and we’re testing them one person, one machine,” added Crosby.
After 2012’s nearly $1 million up-grade, those tests now get done with the push of a button.
The upgrade included the addition of 30 new sirens and a new, high-tech system on each and every one of all the county’s sirens, old and new.
Officials also deleted small sirens that only had a coverage radius of a quarter of a mile, replacing them with larger ones.
That way, more areas were made-up of over-lapping sirens which has increased their reach.
Emergency management officials say in ‘high-noise areas’, like at US-54 or I-135, the overlap in the county’s siren coverage map is necessary, to make sure everyone can hear a siren when they need to most, like in the event a tornado warning.
Emergency management tests the sirens every week and search out the reason for any failures. Recently, they found copper thieves had stripped the wires off the pole.
“Every time we see something wrong, we go take care of it as soon as possible,” said Crosby. “The siren’s main job is to alert you to something is wrong so that you will seek shelter and seek information.”
If it’s not Monday at noon and you hear the siren, the chances are that something’s wrong.