News 4 Investigates: Tornado Sirens -

News 4 Investigates: Tornado Sirens

The tornado siren system in St. Clair County, Illinois is a hodge podge network that forces communities to fend for themselves. O'Fallon is responsible for O'Fallon and Belleville takes care of Belleville. If you live in an area where you can't hear a siren then you fall into a "dead zone," which means you better count on something else.

St. Louis County, which has more than ninety municipalities, operates more than two hundred sirens for all the municipalities and unincorporated areas making it the largest system in the country activated by a single source. It certainly seems like a more efficent way to do it.

Bob Knight, the Director of the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency, says there are dead zones in unincorporated parts of the county, but he can't identify them and insists that the county has never studied the issue. He thinks the current warning system is adequate.

Some suburban counties have even fewer sirens than St. Clair. Two years ago, KMOV's Russell Kinsaul reported that Franklin and Jefferson counties in Missouri and Madison County in Illinois had no sirens in unincorporated areas.

I rarely rely on sirens. If we know a storm is heading our way, our family will watch a local television station (KMOV, of course) or listen to a local radio station. Although we don't use a weather radio, it's an excellent source too. We also keep a battery powered light and radio, blankets and other items in our crawl space just in case we need to be there for a while.

My wife and I have identified a safer room in the center of the house for a desperation dive for safety. If we have enough time, we can go to the crawl space.

Warning sirens can help you if you're outside, but you should take responsibility for knowing if severe weather is heading your way and know what to do if it arrives, especially if you live in a dead zone.

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