Village to improve communication about weather, safety emergencies

By on August 13, 2010

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Elburn officials plan to make sure residents know when they hear the outdoor emergency siren why the village is sounding it.

When the village activates the siren, the Elburn and Countryside Fire Department and TriCom are swamped with calls from residents wanting to know the reason, Fire Chief Kelly Callaghan said. Because the Fire Department does not activate the alarm, it does not always have that information, said Callaghan, who asked the village to improve communication about emergencies when it sounds the alarm.

Village Administrator Erin Willrett said she will look into the possibility of offering a special phone number people may call for information about an emergency when they hear the siren. The highest-ranking official at Village Hall is responsible for activating the siren in a weather or civil emergency, and that person also would record a message for the phone line giving information about the emergency.

In addition, the village will post more information about the siren on the village website, Willrett said.

During the Public Safety Committee meeting Monday, village officials discussed these initiatives, which village employee Dave Gualdoni said he supports.

“I think public education is the biggest problem,” said Gualdoni, who listens to spotters’ transmissions and checks weather radar to make sure the village knows when to sound the siren.

Gualdoni also believes every household should have a weather radio. Willrett said the village website also could link to other websites with information about weather radios.

The village sounds its emergency siren when it receives confirmed storm-spotter reports of a tornado, a funnel cloud or a rotating wall cloud; severe thunderstorms with winds of 70 mph or greater, or golf-ball size or larger hail; and civil emergencies such as a train derailment resulting in a toxic spill.

The village does not provide an all-clear signal. Instead, it recommends that residents be indoors and monitoring local media reports or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration radio for storm or civil emergency information.

At 10 a.m. on the first Tuesday of each month, the village tests its siren.

Warning tones
Severe weather threat: steady tone for 3-5 minutes

Civil emergency: slow rise and fall tone for 3-5 minutes