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Wood County Dispatch Center
Friday June 17th, 2011 :: 02:43 p.m. CDT


Outdoor Weather Siren information

Wood County Emergency Management and the Wood County Dispatch Center would like to provide you with some information about Outdoor Warning Sirens. This information was taken from the National Weather Service and further details can be found on

In order to provide citizens with the most effective outdoor warning system possible Wood County utilizes municipally owned and maintained outdoor warning sirens to warn our communities of severe weather conditions. The outdoor sirens are also used for other emergencies such as a hazardous chemical spill, local (flooding) or National (Attack/Invasion) emergency which may require residents to evacuate their homes or shelter in place.

Why use outdoor warning sirens? Sirens are still the most efficient method to warn the population at large in the shortest amount of time. They are most effective at warning people who may be outdoors at ball games, in their yard, or anywhere else where they are not in contact with the normal news media channels such as radio or TV and would be unaware of the situation at hand.

• Why are they called outdoor warning sirens? The sirens are called outdoor warning sirens because their primary purpose is to alert people who are outside to severe weather, chemical releases, or other emergencies. The sirens should not be expected to provide sufficient warning indoors or in noisy areas. Air-conditioning, thunder, wind, rain, and other conditions can cause the sirens not to be heard indoors or outdoors (even if sirens can be heard during tests). Sirens are also susceptible to lightning strikes and other equipment malfunctions and may not operate. Furthermore, sirens provide no information on the type of threat or exact location of potential danger.

• What should I do if I hear an outdoor warning siren? If the outdoor warning system is heard at anytime other than scheduled test day (Wednesdays at around 1:30 PM) seek shelter if threatening weather appears imminent and tune in to local radio, television, or your NOAA weather radio for instructions and information. Local officials will be disseminating information about the emergency through these outlets. With more information, you can decide what further protective measures to take. When the sirens stop, it does not indicate the threat has passed. Sirens may be activated more than once, as new or additional threats are identified.

• Jeff Last, NOAA/NWS-Green Bay Warning Coordination Meteorologist, gives this advice: “When the public asks me how to respond when they hear an outdoor siren, I tell them to find out, as quickly as possible, why the siren is on. They should immediately turn on local TV, radio, or NOAA Weather Radio and be prepared to quickly move to shelter if severe weather threatens or a hazardous event is occurring. The public needs to take responsibility to ensure they know what's going on when an alert is issued.”

• What should you do next? If the siren is being sounded for a weather event it is important to remember that any thunderstorm can produce a tornado with little or no warning. What starts as a severe thunderstorm warning may quickly become a tornado warning. When a tornado warning is issued, take the following immediate safety precautions:

In homes or small buildings: Go to a pre-designated safe area such as the basement, if available. If a basement is not available go to an interior room on the lowest floor, such as a closet or bathroom away from windows, doors, and outside walls. Upper floors are unsafe. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy furniture (heavy table or work bench), cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), and use your arms to cover your head and neck to protect against flying debris.

In schools, hospitals, factories, or shopping centers: Go to interior rooms and halls on the lowest floor. Stay away from glass enclosed places or areas with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums and warehouses. Crouch down and cover your head and neck. Centrally-located stairwells are good shelter.

In high-rise buildings: Go to interior small rooms or halls preferably without windows. Stay away from exterior walls or windows.

In cars: IF POSSIBLE, DRIVE A ROUTE AWAY FROM THE PATH OF THE STORM! Otherwise take shelter in a sturdy building. As a last resort, you need to decide whether to ride it out in your car hunched down below the windows with your SEATBELT ON, or to lie flat in the nearest ditch or depression with your hands covering your head. Be alert for flash floods. It is not recommended to seek shelter under overpasses.

In mobile homes: ABANDON THEM IMMEDIATELY! Most tornado deaths occur in cars and mobile homes. If you are in a mobile home, leave it and go to a sturdy building providing greater protection. If your mobile home community has a designated shelter, make it your safe place.

If no suitable structure is nearby: Lie flat in the nearest ditch or depression and use your hands to cover your head. Be alert for flash floods.

Listen to a battery-powered NOAA weather radio or local radio or television station for updated information and to determine when conditions are safe. NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day. It also broadcasts alerts of non-weather emergencies such as national security, natural, environmental, and public safety.

Wood County Dispatch Center
400 Market St
Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 715-421-8701

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