Plano's Outdoor Warning System
Siren System Activation
Residents of the city could experience a variety of emergencies including the effects of tornadoes, civil defense, and hazardous materials accidents. That is why the City of Plano has an extensive Outdoor Warning System, comprised of 37 warning sirens. A central control computer, operated by Public Safety Communications personnel, sends secure digital messages to each siren, telling the sirens when and how to operate. The Public Safety Communications Department works in close cooperation with the Emergency Management Department during weather events to ensure timely activation of the outdoor warning system.
The City's policy and criteria for activation of the OWS was developed in coordination with the National Weather Service. It is generally consistent with criteria used in surrounding cities in the Dallas / Fort Worth areas and is as follows:
- Tornado Warnings from the National Weather Service naming Plano in the path; or
- Severe Thunderstorm Warnings from the National Weather Service that predict winds over 73 miles per hour or hail that meets the following criteria:
- Verified reports of half-dollar (1 1/4 inches) sized hail or
- Forecasts predicting walnut or ping-pong ball (1 1/2 inches), golf-ball (1 3/4 inches) or greater sized hail for the City of Plano
To ensure all systems are operating normally, Public Safety Communications performs a monthly audible test of the Outdoor Warning System. This testing occurs on the first Wednesday of each month at noon. (The test will not be conducted if there is any City-wide emergency or threatening weather.)
What do I do when I hear the warning sirens?
- Remain calm, go inside and seek shelter immediately, turn on your radio or television, or listen to your Weather Alert Radio.
- Listen carefully to the instructions.
- Take whatever action is necessary to protect yourself and your family. Unless told otherwise, stay indoors until the emergency has ended.
Note: In this area WBAP Radio, 820 a.m., is the designated Emergency Alert System (EAS) station. Most other radio and television stations will also broadcast information regarding emergencies. Those with cable TV may turn to PTN, Time Warner Channel 16 or Verizon FiOS Channel 30 or 31, for official information from the Plano Warning Center.
Do not call 911 to ask why the warning sirens have been activated. Only call 911 if you have an emergency to report for Police, Fire or EMS assistance.
This system is a supplemental warning system, designed to warn those who are outside, or who are in close proximity to a siren. As a supplemental warning system, it may not always be audible inside homes, buildings with a high ambient noise level (such as offices or factories), or when you are sleeping.
As a primary means of warning, Weather Alert Radio Receivers are strongly encouraged for every home and business. They are available from a variety of retailers, and typically cost between $30 and $80. These receivers sit silently until the National Weather Service issues a warning; at which time they give out a loud alarm sound, followed by the specific warning message. The Weather Alert Radios can easily be configured to warn the hearing and visually impaired.
It is imperative that you remain aware of the potential for severe weather, especially during the spring and fall storm seasons. By remaining alert, you can anticipate severe weather, and possible watches or warnings. If the potential for severe weather exists, be prepared. Monitor your Weather Radio or a local radio or television station for updates.
A little advanced planning will help you be ready, should an emergency occur:
- Prearrange a safe meeting place inside your home. You will want to find an interior room on the ground floor, with no windows or exterior doors.
- Keep blankets, water, non-perishable food, flashlight, and personal hygiene items readily accessible.
- Have your driver's license, checkbook, credit cards and cash ready.
- Make sure your car has at least a half tank of gas at all times.
- If you have one, keep your cellular telephone fully charged and ready to use.
Most emergencies are short-lived, but having made some simple advance plans will help ensure your safety.