The sirens are part of the Emergency Management Plan for Karnes County.
In a joint venture between the City of Kenedy and Karnes County the emergency management coordinators have created an Emergency Operation Center (EOC).
During an emergency or bad weather, local agencies will call in status reports to a dispatcher at the EOC instead of the sheriff’s department.
The equipment for the EOC was paid for through grants.
Additional equipment was funded through Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) that enables the EOC to communicate with Wilson County and Bexar County during large scale emergency situations.
The new equipment included upgraded sirens for Kenedy, Karnes City, Runge and Falls City.
All four towns now have sirens for fires, weather watches and weather warnings.
Most residents are familiar with the fire sirens.
The weather watch siren will last for three minutes and has a high and low tone.
The weather watch siren will be sounded when the National Weather Service advises that the radar shows conditions for a possible tornado, funnel cloud or other severe weather disturbance.
When the weather watch siren is heard residents should be alert and listen to the television or radio for weather updates.
The weather warning siren will last five minutes and will also have a high and low tone.
The weather warning siren will be sounded when a tornado, funnel cloud or other severe weather condition has been visually confirmed.
When the weather warning siren is heard residents should take cover and wait out the bad weather.
In the case of a tornado warning, such as the one that happened recently, officials recommend that everyone stay calm and gather in a central place with limited windows such as a hallway or bathroom.
“Know where to go”, says Police Chief Duane DuBose. “Parents should practice with their kids in case the power is out and you have to find your way in the dark.”
Officials recommend that people who live in a mobile home, if possible, should go to a friend or relative’s home until the danger has passed.
DuBose said that in the future the emergency coordinators hope to add a mass notification warning system.
Right now they are looking into two systems; an auto dialer and a computerized system.
The auto dialer calls a resident’s home phone with a prerecorded message.
The computerized system would deliver the prerecorded message by text, email or by phone.
Residents would have to register their information at the provided website.
The Emergency Management coordinators intend to have special training in the near future which will include sounding each of the sirens so that residents will have a better understanding of the differences between the siren tones and what the different tones mean.
Watch for more information in future issues of The Karnes Countywide.