LED alerts on tornado sirens take a back seat to smartphones in - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

LED alerts on tornado sirens take a back seat to smartphones in Heartland

(Source: Mike Mohundro, KFVS) (Source: Mike Mohundro, KFVS)

The Heartland is no stranger to severe weather. In fact, many have alerts set up on their phone already for when severe weather strikes in their area.

But do those alerts help everyone?

One town in Missouri took a step forward in preparing people for an upcoming tornado. 

According to KTVI in St. Louis, a new siren with LED lighting was put up recently in the town of Wentzville, Mo. 

This new siren will not only help alert the general public but would help alert people that are deaf. A visual light for the hearing impaired will help in times if they are outside and a tornado is close by. 

Butler County EMA Director Robbie Myers says while having a LED light to alert people is a good idea, it's not practical in rural areas such as Butler County. 

Myers says he loves the idea of alerting people in a variety of ways and connecting with everyone.

He says the LED lights are a consideration in the county, but there are better and cheaper ways to alert everyone including those with special needs or have impaired hearing. 

Myers said they have 23 tornado sirens in the county.

"To reach everyone in the county with a light alert on our sirens is very hard," said Myers. "We would have a lot of costs involved paying for them, installing them, and installing additional sirens to reach everyone in the county. It's not practical."

Myers does have another idea that can reach everyone though. It's something most all of us have in our possession already: smartphones.

Myers says he and many in the county have weather alerts already set up to their phones to alert them.

"Your phone has many options. Whether it is to alert you by sound, by light and even vibration," said Myers.

"It helps alert everyone regardless of whether they are hearing impaired or have special needs. Whether you are outside playing baseball, sitting in your car, or sitting at home, your phone will alert you."

Butler County residents we spoke first thought it was a great idea to have another source, other than sound from a siren, to alert them.

They thought it was neat to have the light alerts to help the hearing impaired during severe weather. 

That was until they thought about what they already have in their hands. They realized they had the option all along. 

"In addition to smartphone app alerts, people can buy little lights that can plug into and mount on their phone if they need that option," says Myers.

"In addition to that, having a weather radio is also very effective and you can also buy a light to hook up to that as well for an alert."

Myers says while they continually try to come up with better ways to alert the public with an upcoming storm, it's smartphones that are the cheapest and most effective way to alert people no matter if they have impaired hearing or any other special needs. 

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