Now, thanks to new computer software and coordination with the National Weather Service, sirens will only sound in the areas in the path of the hazardous weather.
“What we want to get out to the people is that sirens in the county and at University of West Georgia will sound just for tornado warnings,” said Tim Padgett, the county’s Emergency Management Agency director. “There will be no more soundings for severe thunderstorms during a tornado watch.”
Padgett said the National Weather Service now has the ability to outline very specific geographic areas on its storm-tracking radar, using a polygon shape to mark the affected locations. He said that when a tornado is spotted, the county’s weather sirens in the path of the tornado will be automatically activated, and not sirens in the entire county, as in the past.
“So now, when you hear the sirens, you know to take immediate action to stay safe,” he said. “If a storm spotter or public safety official spots a tornado, the sirens can still be activated manually.”
But Padgett warned residents not to rely on the county’s 31 warning sirens as their only warning system.
“These are only outdoor warning devices to tell you to get inside and take cover,” Padgett said. “Don’t depend on the sirens alone. We encourage everyone to have a weather radio and sign up for the free smart phone alert apps which let you know about National Weather Service alerts for your area.”
He said the idea is to have “as many tools as possible in your weather warning toolbox.”
Padgett said weather radios are still one of the best warning devices since they can be programmed to your zip code and receive warnings immediately.
“With the weather radio, you get the warnings the same time I do,” he said.
He said these radios cost about $30 and are available locally at department stores, Home Depot, Walmart, Lowe’s, Kroger, Radio Shack and many other retailers.
Padgett said Carroll County EMA received a grant from Georgia Emergency Management Agency to purchase about 1,500 weather radios for distribution to government buildings, churches, other public buildings and individuals who cannot afford to buy them.
He said the county EMA and Homeland Security are now under the management of the sheriff’s office.
“Sheriff (Terry) Langley has embraced the program and has helped us get grants and offer more programs,” Padgett said.
He encourages families to create their own disaster plans, taking into consideration any special needs they have, such as elderly residents, pets and livestock. He said shelter should be sought in the lowest part of a sturdy building, putting as many interior walls between yourself and the outside, as possible.
“Stay away from windows and doors,” he suggested, “and listen to a battery-operated NOAA weather radio for official updates.”
Padgett said Carroll County Emergency Management Agency offers emergency preparedness and safety classes for individuals, community organizations, businesses and daycare providers. More information on the classes are available by calling 770-830-5882, or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.