Metro Emergency Leaders Release Guidelines For Weather Warning System

Wednesday, March 2nd 2011, 2:48 pm
By: News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Central Oklahoma Emergency Management Association (COEMA) released new guidelines Wednesday for the use of outdoor warning systems, but cities still have the option of using the sirens when they believe it's necessary to warn citizens about a potential threat.

Emergency management leaders from 11 jurisdictions helped draft the new guidelines for warning sirens. Leaders said they should provide a consistent and clear message for people in the metro.

"It's critical that we communicate clearly during times of crisis," said Task Force Chair Frank Barnes. "These guidelines let people know what they should do when they hear a siren - regardless of where they live in central Oklahoma."

The new guidelines encouraged people to take shelter immediately when they hear a siren, and seek more information. Emergency management leaders also wanted to make it clear that when the sirens stop, it does not indicate the threat has passed.

Other guidelines include:

  • Sirens may be activated more than once, as new or additional threats are identified.
  • Cities and counties will never sound an "all clear" signal.
  • Activation of sirens are based on:
    1. National Weather Service (NWS) Tornado Warning
    2. Credible report of tornadic conditions
    3. Location of the hazard or threat
    4. Timing of the hazard or threat
  • In addition to severe weather, significant threats to life may include potential dam breaches, wildfires, hazardous material incidents or enemy attack. These situations may involve a different siren tone, use of the public address (voice message) or both.
  • Sirens will be tested at least once per month for three (3) minutes at noon on Saturday.

Cities and counties participating in the warning system guidelines include Bethel Acres, Del City, Edmond, Midwest City, Moore, Norman, Oklahoma City, Tecumseh, Yukon, Canadian County and Oklahoma County.