Hamilton County revamps siren system

HAMILTON COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - When you hear it, it might sound like a fire whistle, but it's not.

It's Hamilton County's outdoor warning siren system designed to deliver a heads up when a tornado or other bad weather is coming your way.  Officials say this is something that shouldn't be taken lightly.

"This is simply a warning that something is going on and you need to be proactive and take that responsibility to find out what it is to protect you and your family," said Dana Schratt, warning coordinator at Hamilton County EMA.

Hamilton County is nearing the end of revamping their siren system with the help of a little more than $2 million in federal grant money.  When it's all said and done, they'll have about 200 of them in place, plus two voice alert systems.

"One will be at the Paul Brown Stadium and the second will be by the Purple People Bridge," added Schratt.

For one person we talked to, she says she doesn't think the siren system is quite as effective as it needs to be.  But, she did suggest that maybe technology might be the route to go.

"Everybody has smartphones, and Droids, and iPhones that I think that our phones go off before we even hear a siren.  So, for the most part, I think they're kind of outdated with our technology in today's times," said Taylor Malott, a student at UC.

Malott has heard the sirens before, though, especially when they're tested the first Wednesday of the month at noon.

"Usually I just think, like, I don't think about them until I hear them and like, 'oh, it must be Wednesday.'  You just think of them as a test.  That's mostly what I would think about them," added Malott.

The siren system isn't the be-all end-all, but officials say it's a good indicator that you need to get inside, and turn on your television to find out what's going on.

"They are just one part of a very large system.  We need to be a little bit more proactive in monitoring the sirens on a personal level," said Schratt.

One common misconception Schratt told us is that it's assumed you're supposed to hear these sirens inside your home.  They're actually not designed for that.  Their purpose is to warn those outdoors that there is some serious impending weather, and it's time to take cover.

Follow this link for Hamilton County's telephone warning system - https://sosink.smartmsg.com

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