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Storm siren questions answered in 'Hey Heidi' segment

11:05 AM, Feb 7, 2013   |    comments
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ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. (KSDK) - This week's question for "Hey Heidi" is all about severe weather season.

Spring is less than six weeks away and all too often it brings with it severe weather, something the team here at St. Charles County emergency management is constantly watching.

"We're monitoring the weather all the time and the closer it gets we'll start checking the radar around the state so we can track it on the way in," explains Ina McCaine-Obenland, operations and public outreach with St. Charles County Emergency Management.

It's in a restricted room of buttons and knobs, toggles and tuners where they manually flip the switch on the sirens in St. Charles County.

"Our guidelines for setting off the outdoor warning sirens in St. Charles County is when there is a warning issued by the national weather service for St. Charles County or if we have visual confirmation that we're confident about within the county," McCaine-Obenland goes on to say.

But the warning sirens, which are programmed for three minutes, do not sound the all-clear.

"The length of time the sirens are actually going off doesn't really have anything to do with whether it's safe or if the danger is past," McCaine-Obenland adds.

"Basically the sirens will cycle and that indicates that there is a dangerous condition that you need to be aware of. Go inside and get additional information from broadcast media, TV, radio, computers, an alternate source that can give you more details specifically about what's happening," she says.

And although there are 135 outdoor warning sirens in St. Charles County alone, they're not designed for you to hear indoors.

"They're designed to warn people who are outside that something is going on and you need to go inside to a safe place, for inside what we recommend are NOAA weather radios," McCaine-Obenland points out.

All of this is fairly common practice, but it is up to each county or municipality.



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