Tornado sirens are tested every first Tuesday

Published 9:46 pm Thursday, July 6, 2017

Every first Tuesday of every month around 10 a.m. weather sirens can be heard wailing across Dallas County.

That’s because Toya Stiles, director of the Dallas County Emergency Management Agency, is testing the sirens to make sure they are working for when or if they are needed.

“I will call 911 and let them know that I will test the sirens at 10 a.m., and once I call them I will go to the back and actually go on the system and press wail and hit all the sirens and set the sirens off,” Stiles said.

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The only other time residents will hear the sirens outside of tests, is when the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning for Dallas County.

“The purpose of the sirens is to warn the people in the community that a tornado has been spotted,” Stiles said. “Once Dallas County has been issued a warning, that’s when we set the sirens off to let the residents know this is serious, take cover, follow your safety plan and get in your safe place.”

There is a total of 18 weather sirens located throughout Dallas County. They were most recently tested on July 5. Stiles said the test was successful, and none of the sirens were reported out.

“This time we didn’t have any calls saying the sirens aren’t working,” Stiles said Thursday. “We kind of depend on our residents to let us know if the sirens are not working, and sometimes I’ll run upstairs to see if I can hear the sirens because there is one close by that I can hear.”

Stiles encourages residents to report sirens if they aren’t heard, so they can get them repaired.

While the sirens can be heard indoors in some homes, not everyone can hear them from inside, especially if a tornado warning is issued in the middle of the night while people are likely to be sleeping.

“People [indoors] should hear them, but we tell people to not depend on the sirens,” Stiles said.

She encourages people to get a weather radio to keep inside their home, an app on their phone that can alert them or to sign up for the Dallas County EMA’s notification system.

Sirens are not the only method used to alert people. Stiles said the county also has a call system that calls people that have signed up for notifications.

“The only time the warning system will call people is when we are under a tornado warning. I always have people to call in once we’re under a tornado watch,” she said. “It’s not going to call you just for a tornado watch. It’s going to call for a tornado warning.”

Stiles said sirens are only heard when they are tested or if a tornado warning is issued, but they can be used in other situations.

“We’ve never used them [for another emergency], but in the event, they can,” she said.

To sign up for the tornado warning phone call notifications, call Stiles at (334) 874-2515. Sirens that are not working can also be reported to the same number.

The 18 sirens are located at: Medical Center Parkway, East End School, Meadowview, Selma High School, Cedar Park Elementary School, Martin Middle School, B.K. Craig Elementary School, Lazy Acres, the Sportsplex, Orrville, the Dallas County Jail, Plantersville, Valley Grande west, Summerfield, Five Points Elementary School, Salem Elementary School, Shiloh Elementary School and Paul M. Grist State Park.