The Town of Benton on Tuesday demonstrated its new tornado siren recently purchased with state grant funds, while setting forth guidelines for its use.
The system, owned by the Town of Benton, is comprised of a single Federal Signal Siren Device, capable of producing an intense warning signal. It's located at 210 Red River Street, mounted atop a 40' pole and equipped with a battery back-up in the event of a power loss.
The design of the system enables the siren to produce a high sound level, capable of being heard within approximately a one-mile radius.
As set forth in the operation policy and procedure agreement established by the town, the system's siren has been placed strategically to form a warning system to alert citizens outdoors of imminent threats of possible tornadoes. Developed specifically as an early warning system to people outdoors, they emphasize that the system should not be relied upon for warning individuals indoors. They also point out that the system could be subject to equipment malfunction as well as failure due to damage from lightning strikes.
The outdoor tornado warning siren for the Town of Benton is activated under the following circumstances:
When the National Weather Service issues a Tornado Warning specific to or tracking toward the Town of Benton
When the local televised meteorologist indicates the potential for tornadic activity moving toward Caddo or Bossier Parish with a path tracking toward the Town of Benton
When Bossier Parish Communications District Number One Officers receive credible reports of physical damage or personal injury specific to possible tornadic activity tracking toward the Town of Benton.
When directed to activate the siren by the Mayor of the Town of Benton.
Testing of the system will be done on a regularly scheduled basis, both with what's called an "operational poll" of the siren, which is automatic and produces no audible alert. That will be done weekly. Audible alert testing will also be conducted on the first Saturday of each month at 11:00 a.m.
The one-minute siren activation will be used to test for sound quality, volume level and mechanical rotation.
The audible test will not be activated during times of inclement non-tornadic weather, so as not to unduly alarm the public.
Those who hear the siren during severe weather should take shelter immediately on the lowest floor in a small center room (like a bathroom or a closet), under a stairwell or an interior hallway with no windows. According to a pamphlet being distributed by the town informing residents of the new system and what to do in the event if it's sounding, "Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down and cover your head with your hands. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail.
Those in a mobile home should get out. The pamphlet warns, "Even if the home is tied down, you are probably safer outside, even if the only alternative is to seek shelter out in the open. If there is a sturdy permanent building within easy running distance, seek shelter there. Otherwise, lie flat on low ground away from your home, protecting your head. If possible, use open ground away from trees or cars, which can be blown onto you."
Officials plan to test the newly installed siren for the first time on Saturday, Oct. 6. Residents, visitors and those who work within town limits are encouraged to review their own emergency plans in preparation for severe weather.
The system is not currently in service, but town officials say it will be activated in November. A $35,000 grant from the State of Louisiana will cover the cost of buying and installing the siren.
Sunday, August 31 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-08-31 19:28:29 GMT
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