Panel mulls alternatives to tornado sirens
The local Emergency Planning Committee met Thursday to discuss an alternative to the sirens that alert the community to the presence of tornadoes.
"We are looking into not just using sirens, because they're so restrictive," said Marty Clements, director of the Madison County Emergency Management Agency. "It costs a whole lot of money to keep them up and running. We're trying to find the best and most economical ways to take care of people."
The 47 sirens in the county are becoming dated and cost roughly $25,000 to replace. A representative from Alert FM spoke to the group about a system that could be more effective and potentially replace the sirens. Jim Lowery explained that relying on televisions or cell phones alone is not an efficient method of staying informed. Power outages happen, and
network issues can arise when numerous people try to make outgoing calls at the same time.
"We take the infrastructure that is already in place, that is the local public or commercial FM radio, and we use that to send out the notifications," Lowery said. "They can be weather warnings or anything the EMA group wishes to send out to a local community."
Those messages are broadcast through portable, battery-powered receivers that can be purchased for about $39.99. The receiver is a warning device and does not provide a steady stream of information. Its purpose is to alert the user so that he or she can then utilize some other source for more details, including a television or smart phone.
Organizations represented at the committee meeting included Jackson Energy Authority, Jackson-Madison County Health Department, Jackson Police Department, Jackson Fire Department, Salvation Army Disaster Services, American Red Cross and several others.
It also was mentioned that February is Earthquake Awareness Month. For more information about participating in a drill scheduled for at 10:15 a.m. Feb. 7, visit www.shakeout.org.