Communities across Ohio took part in an annual tornado siren drill on Wednesday, but some sirens in Stark County never went off. Smartphones could be to blame.
Stark County Emergency Management Director Tim Warstler said the old technology still works, but mostly just outdoors.
“There’s no problem with outdoor sirens and that’s exactly what they’re meant for is outdoor warning. What the problem becomes is people believe they should hear them inside,” Warstler said.
In many cases, he said the best siren could already be in your hand. He said installing new sirens could cost $25,000 or more, but many free phone apps offer the same kind of protection.
Still, communities that have faced a tornado’s wrath are thinking twice about ditching the old standard. Brunswick turned there sirens back on after two tornados touched down in 2014.
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“Fortunately, neither of those caused any fatalities or any serious injuries,” Brunswick Fire Chief Jim Baird said.
Baird said having the extra layer of protection is worth the price. North Canton resident Linda Natale agreed.
“I don’t think we can be too prepared, can we?” she asked. “I think it’s important. We don’t always have our phones with us.”
Emergency officials urged people not to rely solely on outdoor sirens. Weather radios are available in stores and there’s a number of free apps for smartphones that offer tornado alerts, including newsnet5’s Storm Shield App, which is available in the Android and Apple app stores.
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