Residents in tornado siren dead zones seek other warnings - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Residents in tornado siren dead zones seek other warnings

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Many people living in Indiana heard the tornado siren tests Wednesday morning and night, unless they were in a siren dead zones.

The tornado siren dead zones exist when people do not live close enough to a siren. 

Several counties across the state cannot protect some rural areas with sirens because of the cost of a siren. Tornado sirens can cost upwards of $20,000 to put in and a lot of counties do not have enough in the budget to allow everyone to hear sirens.

People who live in one siren dead zone say they just have to keep their eye on the weather if things start looking bad. Some of them even say they have weather radios to alert them.

The Elkhart Co. Emergency Management Department says this is the time of year people should prepare for bad weather regardless of where they live.

"We can have tornadoes tomorrow," said Jennifer Tobey, Elkhart Co. Emergency Management Director. "We could have tornadoes in October."

Wednesday's siren tests were all part of national severe weather awareness week as counties and emergency departments get ready for the upcoming severe weather season.

However, those emergency departments do not want anyone to bet their life on hearing a siren if weather takes a turn for the worse.

"I wouldn't rely simply on a tornado siren," said Tobey. "I'm not saying they're not helpful, I'm not saying they don't work, they do, but depending on what type of weather we have you may not hear it. You may not live close enough to it and in some instances if you live right next door to one you may not hear it."

There are several tornado siren dead zones in Elkhart County and the Damm family lives in one. They realized that when they bought the house, so they stay glued to their TV when the weather gets bad.

"We'll see if they tell us to go in the basement," said Richard Damm. "If so we go in the basement and we listen to the weather on the radio."

Whether people live in a siren dead zone or not, Elkhart Co. Emergency Management officials say you should use severe weather awareness week to prepare.  They say that means putting together an emergency kit that includes things like flashlights and bottled water. They also encourage people to purchase a weather radio, so they will always know if a storm is coming.

The department says it is important to be ready, sirens or not, and Damm agrees.

"You never know if a storm is going to take the roof off or not," said Damm. "You just don't know. So we just stay put until it's clear."

There are several smart phone apps available to help with emergency situations.

For people who do not want to buy a flash light, there are a lot of free apps that use your phones camera flash as a flash light. There is also a Red Cross app that can be used to alert your friends and family that you are safe. There is also the FOX28 Weather App that will alert you if severe weather is in Michiana.

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