Thousands of residents woke up to the sound tornado sirens Wednesday morning but inconsistent alert systems across Northeast Ohio left many people unaware.
The tornado warning technically spanned from Northeast Medina County, Southeast Cuyahoga County, most of northern Summit County, and parts of Northwestern Portage County and Southwestern Geauga County.
But tornado sirens blared in areas far outside the warning area. Each municipality has it’s own guidelines as to when the sirens sound. The City of Cleveland doesn’t have sirens while cities like Macedonia chose not to use them.
And the sirens aren’t meant to be heard inside of your home; they’re meant to alert people outdoors.
That’s where the Wireless Emergency Alerts managed by the FCC come in handy.
“There’s Amber alerts, weather alerts and then there’s government alerts. They all have the same tone to them,” explained News 5 Meteorologist Bryan Shaw.
The issue is they rely on several factors, including cell reception.
Senior Security Consultant Jason Ashton with TrustedSec told News 5 that not receiving the alert could have also been caused by turning off emergency alerts on your mobile device — there are settings for this and AMBER alerts on iOS specifically.
“Since the message is sent out once (per alert), even a temporary interruption of service would cause the alert to be missed,” Ashton explained.
The City of Cleveland started using a mass notification system called CodeRED last summer which delivers alert messages to cell phones, landlines and email addresses.
The system uses geographical technology to deploy notifications.
Residents have to register and download the free CodeRED Mobile Alert app to start getting the alerts.