On April 20th, as part of severe weather awareness week, Wisconsin’s Department of Emergency Management conducted a statewide tornado drill. You may have heard the outdoor warning sirens. That’s good. You may not have heard the sirens; that’s because they’re really only intended to alert people who are outdoors that they should immediately take shelter.
Fortunately, we live in a day and age where there are a plethora of new and better tools to provide up -to-the-minute weather information directly to your home, phone, car or camper. The point is, if you’re waiting to hear the outdoor sirens before you take any action when severe weather strikes, you’ve waited too long.
There are a variety of new technologies that every citizen can take advantage of.
In 2017, many have smart phones, or at least one person in a household has one. Given the available free weather apps, a smart phone can be your best bet for staying safe and keeping a step ahead of bad weather. It’s like having a siren in your pocket – but better! You can literally track incoming review the forecast each morning, track incoming storms on radar and be notified of National Weather Service issued Watches and Warnings.
Even if you do not have a smart phone, your cell phone, landline or e-mail can connect to AtHoc, a networked communication platform that’s used by the Department of Homeland Security and the American Red Cross which allows people to register for alerts. Any resident of Outagamie County can now register for alerts through AtHoc free of charge. In an emergency, the Outagamie County 911 center can forward valuable information to you via AtHoc. It also provides warnings about potential public dangers such as chemical spills and evacuation notices, not just severe weather.
To register, visit www.outagamie.org and then click Government, Emergency Management, and then Public Alert Notification System. That takes you to the AtHoc registration page, where you simply enter your information and select the types of alerts you wish to receive. It’s that easy – and it’s one more tool available to keep you informed.
One of the best tools out there are NOAA weather radios. They can be purchased through the County Clerk’s office for $31.50 or at a variety of local retailers. This is another way to get immediate information when the National Weather Service issues weather bulletins. These are great for your home, camper or cottage and can be specifically programmed for your location.
The key to getting good information when severe weather occurs is having multiple ways of being notified. We encourage you to take advantage of all of these tools to help keep you and your family safe this summer.
Outagamie County Executive