Archive for Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Emergency sirens not just for weather

March 12, 2003

This year, Severe Weather Awareness Week takes on a new meaning.

As usual, sirens were tested at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, but there turned out to be a glitch in Tonganoxie. Chuck Magaha, the county's director of emergency management, said Tonganoxie's sirens failed to sound. Shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday, crews were still working to find the problem.

Across Kansas, county emergency management agencies are participating in tornado safety drills. Other public entities, such as hospitals and factories, are also encouraged to test their storm readiness.

Magaha said it's more important now, than ever before, that homes and businesses use NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio alarms.

The radios, used to warn of tornadoes and other severe weather situations, can also be used to warn of any other emergencies, including terroristic events, or chemical or biological warfare.

The radios sell at Price Chopper grocery stores for $39.95, Magaha said. The grocery chain sells the radios at cost. For each radio sold, the manufacturer, Midland Radio, donates $4 to the Project Community Alert fund of the Mid-America Regional Council.

Magaha said every home and office should have a NOAA weather radio alarm.

"These are all-hazard radios," he said. "National Weather Service is structured so that in the future they'll be able to do Amber Alerts on these, or if we have a civil emergency, such as a terroristic alert or chemical alert and severe weather, they'll be sounded for that."

The goal of the MARC radio-sales plan, Magaha said, is to have 100,000 of the weather alert radios in use in the greater Kansas City area in the next three years. Since August, about 20,000 of the radios have been sold through the Price Chopper program.

"We feel they're just as important as a smoke detector or a carbon monoxide detector," Magaha said.

And, when it comes to the possibility of terrorism, the best advice Magaha has to give is that everyone should try to be aware of their surroundings.

"If something doesn't look right, it's probably because it isn't right," he said. "Notify your local law enforcement."

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