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The Safety Strategy Behind Storm Sirens In NWA

Northwest Arkansas - With the severe weather season here, storm sirens will become a more familiar sound. But how much can you depend on them to keep people safe during a storm and should they be the only thing you count on?

Northwest Arkansas - In the middle of the severe weather season, storm sirens sounding will become a more common sound.

Whether they are being testing or sounding for the real deal, storm sirens in Northwest Arkansas are a large part of what people depend on in the middle of a storm.

Bill Edwards, the Mayor of Centerton said, "If folks are outside playing sports are at our parks, this is a great tool to alert them."

Centerton is one of several cities in the area with storm sirens.

The Mayor says with a total of 3 scattered across the city, they are strategically placed for the most coverage.

Edwards explains, "We cover, with the siren locations right now about 95% of our citizens."

Like putting together the pieces of a puzzle, city leaders sit down with siren companies and plot out on a map where they can get can get the best coverage. 

Each siren has roughly a mile to a mile-and-a-half radius.

Bentonville Fire Chief  Brent Boydston said, "We specifically sat and took those radius and placed them on the map strategically to get the full coverage that we need."

But given the fact they are outdoor sirens, they are also vulnerable to the elements and other factors.

Boydston said, "They are mechanical and electronic system. Things will fail and things will break."

Bentonville has 16 sirens.

And in a recent storm, 3 of them temporarily went out.

In order to keep that from happening and keep them maintained, the city has daily silent tests and monthly all-out tests.

"People rely on them quite a bit, they expect them to work and we take very good care of our system and testing is important," said Boydston.

Although the regular tests help ensure the sirens are running smoothly, city leaders remind residents they are only meant as a safety precaution and won't guarantee safety.

Boydston said, "The one thing you have to understand, storm sirens aren't always going to be heard inside structure, they're designed for people outside."

They recommend the best way to stay safe is to stay informed and be prepared, ahead of the storm.

"Have a plan on what you are going to do in case of impending danger," said Boydston.

Edwards said, "They do need to stay aware and know what to do in the event of an emergency. Don't just panic if you hear those sirens. We want them to be prepared."


List of some of cities and towns with and without storm sirens in Northwest Arkansas:

Bella Vista - Yes

Bentonville - Yes

Rogers - Yes

Lowell - Yes

Highfill - Yes

Springdale - No

Siloam Springs - Yes

Johnson - No

Fayetteville - No (The University of Arkansas has 3)

Prairie Grove - No

West Fork - No

Gravette - Yes

Farmington - No

Lincoln - Yes


For more information on storm sirens, click on the links below:


http://www.siloamsprings.com/departments/police/index.php

http://www.lowellarkansas.gov/index.php?cID=1971

http://www.lincolnarkansas.com/?page_id=246

http://www.bentonvillear.com/public-safety

http://www.rogersarkansas.com/administration/index.asp

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