Ogle County authorities notify citizens of a disaster through official social networking sites, News Talk 1060 AM, FM 102.3 WYOT(formerly WRHL), and television broadcasting. Ogle County also has the ability to utilize an outdoor warning system.
Who Owns and Maintains the Sirens?
In Ogle County, Exelon Corporation has installed and maintains outdoor warning sires as part of its emergency preparedness obligations related to the Byron Nuclear Generating Station. While Exelon is not required to do so, they have allowed for Ogle County to use their system for other emergency situations, such as weather. This is a tremendous cost savings for counties.
When are Sirens sounded?
While there is no specific requirement to do so, Ogle County chooses to operate outdoor weather sirens as a method to alert citizens to emergency situations, such as weather.
Ogle County will sound sirens for nuclear power plant events, severe weather (when warning is available), and other emergency situations as possible. There is no guarantee that sirens will be sounded in your area for severe weather. Sometimes there is little or no warning of the severity of a storm, which means there is little or no time for sounding the sirens.
When sirens are sounded in Ogle County, turn to your local radio station for information. DO NOT CALL 911.
Why Can’t I Hear the Sirens in my Home?
As the term implies, outdoor warning systems are designed and intended for “outdoor” warning. While many people can hear sirens indoors, the ability to do so varies greatly based on the type of construction, whether or not doors and windows are open, etc. Outdoor audible levels also vary based upon a number of factors, such as distance from the siren, wind speed and direction, ambient noise and other factors.
Exelon’s system is designed to meet strict coverage requirements mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Exelon provides engineering documentation periodically to FEMA and the NRC to assure the system is providing the required outdoor audio throughout its coverage area.
It is important to remember that outdoor sirens are for OUTDOOR notification. When you hear the siren, move in doors and tune to the local radio station for more information.
How do I Receive Warnings When I am in my House?
For indoor warning, options such as the National Weather Service’s weather radio system provide one of the best choices for receiving warnings for all types of hazards. Special Weather Radio receivers are automatically activated when a severe weather warning or other emergency notice is issued. This allows you to receive a voice message with specific information about the location and type of emergency. Weather Radios are available through consumer electronics such as Best Buy and Radio Shack. These weather radios run about $40 – $60. Even with the best possible outdoor warning coverage, a Weather Radio is strongly recommended so you may take advantage of all available warning systems.
If you are concerned about potential weather situations, it is best for you to stay indoors and listen to the radio or television for updates. Additionally, if you are outside and notice threatening weather – GO INSIDE AND TAKE SHELTER! DO NOT WAIT TO HEAR A SIREN OR OTHER WARNING! Storms may reach the severe weather level quickly and no warning may be available.
Outdoor Warning Sirens
Outdoor Warning Sirens are probably the most common and widely recognized method of warning the public. They are used by Ogle County for a variety of purposes:
Testing (1st Tuesday of each month at 10:00 a.m.)
Major hazardous materials spill
Nuclear Power Plant
Other warnings as needed
During emergencies, residents will hear a 1-3 minute steady signal of the siren. When you hear the siren and are unsure what they are sounding for, go indoors and tune your radio to one of the Emergency Alert Stations (EAS), and listen for essential emergency information:
FM 102.3 WRHL
AM 1060 WRHL
Please do not call local fire or police agencies and ask why the sirens are sounding! If it is an emergency, they are busy getting equipment and manpower to the emergency scene.
For more information contact: Tom Richter, Ogle County EMA Coordinator at 815-732-6666 x289.