, Muskogee, OK

August 15, 2013

Maintain storm siren protocols

— City officials should listen to the professionals and keep the current procedures for sounding storm sirens.

A recent storm blew through Muskogee and brought concern from some citizens that the city should have sounded the alarms.

The city’s emergency management protocols call for sounding the alarms when a tornado threatens the city or when straight-line winds reach 70 mph.

That is the accepted guidelines set by the National Weather Service.

Dropping the threshold to, say, 60 mph straight-line winds could have a negative effect.

The alarms will be sounded more often. Residents may learn to ignore sirens if they are sounded too often.

Some may feel, and a few must have told city councilors, that the city does not sound the alarms often enough. Some say broadcast media will warn of bad storms while Muskogee’s storm sirens remain silent.

But there are also those who complain about TV taking over prime time during storms.

There are options in the event of a potential storm.

If it gets dicey outside, turn on your radio or television and act accordingly.

Or listen more intently for the sirens to sound.

Or head to your safe place early before the sirens sound.

Each is valid.

Each is the decision of the individual.

No one is stopping citizens from seeking shelter early.

How many of your co-workers hear a fire alarm and assume its a drill?

How many want to confirm a tornado before seeking shelter?

That’s because they have conditioned themselves that there are too many false alarms.

Lowering the threshold for sounding the sirens has the deadly potential to heighten complacency.

Each person should make his or her determination.

The city should not lower the threshold.

People need to know to jump if the alarm sounds.

They won’t if they hear it too often.