Other Disaster Warning Methods in Pennington County include:
The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, satellite digital audio service and direct broadcast satellite providers, cable television systems, and wireless cable systems to provide the President with a communications capability to address the American people within 10 minutes during a national emergency.
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) send free informational text messages to WEA-enabled cell phones within range of an imminent and dangerous local situation, severe weather event, or AMBER emergency.
A nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from a nearby National Weather Service office to specially configured NOAA weather radio receivers.You must have a weather radio to receive these alerts.
Disaster Warning System
Pennington County maintains 33 sirens to warn of impending danger. These sirens are tested at 12 noon on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month. If you hear the siren at any other time, please tune into your radio or local news station for more information. The siren systems are designed to notify the public of a natural or technological emergency which can include natural threats, such as high winds and tornados, blizzards, heavy rain, lightning and hail or human caused such as terrorism, dam failure, wildfires, and spills of hazardous materials.
Community Safety in Pennington County
Shelter in place is a process for taking immediate shelter in a location by sealing a single area (an example being home or single room) from outside contaminants and shutting off all HVAC systems. These actions would generally be taken after a chemical accident or terrorist attack. Depending on the exact situation, everyone within a specific distance of the incident may be ordered to shelter in place or people within a closer range may be ordered to evacuate while everyone else shelters in place. Sheltering in place is generally only used for a short period of time and is one of the actions that may be recommended following a siren activation. Learn more about how to "shelter-in-place" watch this video.
Outdoor Warning Siren FAQ's
What is the purpose of the sirens?
The sirens are to notify citizens who are out doors that they need to seek shelter immediately and turn on their TV or radio for information.
When are the sirens sounded?
Tornado activity or severe weather and other emergencies as determined by the key public safety officials.
Who decides to set off the sirens? Who pushes the button?
Key public safety officials decide and they are activated by the Emergency Services Communications Center (911).
Why do the sirens go off the first and third Saturday each month at 12:00 noon?
This is a test to insure that the sirens receive the activation signal and also to insure they are functioning properly.
Why can't I hear the sirens in my home or business?
The pole mounted sirens are intended as an "OUTDOOR" warning. Outdoor sirens are designed to warn people who are outdoors and would not normally be near a radio or TV. With current construction methods and sound insulation, it is difficult to achieve sound penetration into structures. For this reason, Pennington County Emergency Management recommends that each business and household purchase a weather alert radio.
Is there a volume adjustment on the sirens?
There is not a volume adjustment on the siren; however sirens may seem louder in the fall and winter as there is less foliage to absorb the sound. Some sirens also rotate which can make them seem louder or softer depending on the rotation while they are activated.
If the television or radio recommends taking shelter, but the sirens are not sounding, what steps should I take?
Don't wait for the sirens to sound if you see severe weather and are warned by TV or radio to take cover, do so immediately. Sirens are mechanical and are susceptible to natural hazards or failure.
What happens if the power fails? Will the sirens still sound?
In most cases the siren should sound before severe weather could affect power. All sirens have battery back up and will still sound if power is lost. It is every citizen's responsibility to be aware of changing weather conditions and take proper action. Be prepared.
How much does a new siren cost?
A new siren, including electronics to operate it, pole or other structure to mount it on, and battery backup, can average $19,000.00 per siren depending on different configurations.
How are the sirens maintained?
Sirens are checked annually or if there is a failure during a monthly test. If a siren near your home is malfunctioning please contact the Emergency Management office during regular business hours, or after hours conact the non-emergency 911 Dispatch number (394.4131).
How many sirens are there in our area?
Currently there are 33 sirens strategically placed throughout our county.
How is it decided where a siren will be placed?
Pennington County Emergency Management will take a look at a couple of different things. The primary factor in determining a location is the level of outdoor activity such as a sports complex. We also have to look at available land, power and suitability of coverage.