Carthage fire chief to extend storm warnings
In the event of a tornado warning affecting Carthage, Fire Chief John Cooper said he plans to sound the sirens for a longer period of time than before.
Cooper said his new policy calls for sounding the outdoor storm sirens for three cycles instead of just one in case of a tornado warning for Carthage. That means residents will hear the sirens three times over a 15-minute period.
Cooper emphasized that the sirens are an outdoor warning system, meaning they are meant to warn people who are outside their homes when they go off. The sirens are not loud enough, under most conditions, to be heard inside a sealed, air-conditioned home that is more than a couple of blocks from the siren's location.
Cooper said the sirens can only blow for a maximum of three minutes before they have to be shut down to cool off.
The new cycle for tornado warnings will be to sound the sirens for three times each for three minutes, with two minute breaks between the three soundings.
Cooper said sounding the sirens means a tornado has been spotted and people need to take cover.
"The sirens do not mean come outside and stand in your yard and look up," Cooper said. "They don't mean call the fire department or police department and ask why we're sounding the sirens. I don't sound the sirens unless there is a tornado spotted and on the way. The sirens mean take cover."
Cooper also said some people have the idea that if the sirens sound a second time, that means an all-clear. He said he doesn't use the sirens to sound an all-clear -- if people hear the sirens a second time in just a couple of minutes, it's part of the new warning. If they hear the sirens 20 or 30 minutes after they heard them the first time, it means another storm is on the way and people need to take cover again if they have come out.
Cooper and Bill Davis, chief meteorologist at the Springfield National Weather Service office said the best solution to make sure people inside their homes get the news about any kind of weather warning is to buy and use a weather-alert radio.
These radios are available for a cost of anywhere between $30 and $120 from any of a number of electronics stores or retailers, and many can be programmed to only receive specific kinds of warnings for specific locations.