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Friday, June 28, 2013

Our new and improved hazardous weather sirens

Submitted by Mike Lovas, St. Paul Emergency Management

Summertime brings a lot of excitement and outdoor activities, especially in a city like ours that has beautiful outdoor space to enjoy.  Summer also brings the risk of severe weather in the form of strong thunderstorms and tornadoes.  That is why last year the city replaced our 50-year-old outdated siren system with 37 brand new outdoor sirens.  These outdoor warning sirens will be activated when the National Weather Service issues severe weather warnings for dangerous storms that are producing life-threatening conditions, to allow people outside as much time as possible to safely get inside.  When you hear these sirens it means, “Get inside to get information.” 

The old system was an “all or nothing system,” only able to sound citywide when activated.  The new system can be selected to either sound in specific areas or across the entire city, depending on the threat.  This leads to more accurate outdoor area warnings.  To make sure they are always in working order, the sirens are activated for a regularly scheduled test the first Wednesday of every month at 1:00 p.m.

These sirens are not designed to be a warning siren for people already inside and may not be heard by people already indoors.  The best way to be warned of dangerous weather while indoors is to have a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) weather radio.  They are available for purchase for about $30 at a number of stores and are easy to program for your area.  NOAA weather radios are just as important as your smoke detector.  Your smoke detector alerts you to a fire in your house.  A NOAA weather radio alerts you to dangerous weather conditions outside your house.  Both are capable of sounding an audible alarm anytime, including while you sleep, to alert you of a threat. 
Preparing for a storm

It is always good to prepare in the event severe weather strikes your area.  The City of Saint Paul’s Emergency Management Department is working hard to monitor, prepare and respond to weather warnings.  You can prepare your home as well by identifying where in your house you’d seek shelter in a strong internal area away from windows away from heavy objects, including identifying where kitchen appliances or other heavy overhead objects may sit.  You can build a storm kit which may include one gallon of water per person per day, non-perishable food, battery powered radio and flashlight, a signaling device such as a whistle, closed-toe shoes, First Aid kit, wrenches or pliers to shut off utilities, diapers or formula if you have an infant, extra clothing, cell phone with charger or a battery backup charger, any regularly taken medication, or other items you or your family may want or need.  For more ideas, visit

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