The Herald Bulletin

January 17, 2014

There's an app for that

Technology offers alternative way to keep residents safe during severe weather

By Traci Moyer
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — Local emergency management personnel say creating a national standard to warn residents of imminent danger during a weather emergency is a good idea.

“In today’s world, as people move around and travel or commute, having different standards becomes an issue when one community sets off their siren for one thing and another community sets it off for something else,” said Todd Harmeson, a spokesman for Madison County Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency. “It can be confusing to the general public.”

Harmeson said tornado sirens alone are limited when it comes to effectiveness.

“The important thing that people need to know about sirens is they are an outdoor warning device,” he said. “At two in the morning, how many people are outside? There are other devices out there.”

In addition to alerts on the television and radio systems, applications for electronic devices can warn people of any emergency conditions, Harmeson said.

The American Red Cross tornado app for smart phones uses a global positioning system to alert people of emergency weather conditions based on their physical location. Harmeson said it is perfect for people who travel.

“Alerts on smart phones are just as effective, if not more than sirens,” he said.

Pendleton is one of several communities in Madison County that does not have an outdoor storm siren warning system.

Tim McClintick, interim town manager for Pendleton, said the town has a special program through their local electric company to offer residents a discount on purchasing storm radios. He said the cost to maintain a siren warning system was prohibitive.

“They thought this was a better way to go, and most people have apps on their phones,” he said. “There was some concern with the sirens in the summertime when people are running their air conditioning and they might not hear them.”

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