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Outdoor Warning Siren Working Group

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The Region H Outdoor Warning Siren (OWS) Working Group is a team comprised of emergency management personnel, elected officials, regional planners, weather experts, and other area stakeholders with the simple goal of addressing public desensitization to outdoor warning sirens.

Throughout 2012, the group met with local officials, collected data, and conducted research to help develop standards for when to activate outdoor warning sirens. The result is the planning document "Region H Outdoor Warning Siren Activation Guidelines" linked below. This document is open-source and freely available for jurisidictions to adopt, modify, or simply refer to. The guidelines will continue to be updated and improved.

The problem:  

  • 549 fatalities (nationwide) from tornadoes in 2011 - the deadliest year since 1936, and the 4th deadliest year for tornadoes in US history. (source)
  • Public has become desensitized to warning sirens - for every 10 tornado warnings issued, one results in a confirmed tornado.
  • Sirens are often used in non-emergency situations such as the "noon whistle".
  • It is unclear to the public what siren activation means - criteria differs significantly by jurisdiction.

The goal:

  • Address desensitization to outdoor warning sirens through public education.
  • Develop a standard protocol for activation and testing of outdoor warning sirens.


Media Coverage and Links:

For more information about the OWS Working Group, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (816) 233-3144.