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Thread: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* abvidledUK's Avatar
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    Default Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    As seen from the UK.

    Apparently there was little warning of the latest Tornado to hit Florida.

    This was due to it arriving midnight, we hear, and most people being asleep.

    Warnings were given over the radio, but you had to be listening to hear, and act on, the warning. It not being Hurricane season either didn't help.

    Is there not a system in the US whereby residents can be warned at night of disasters ?

    If not, perhaps a concerted efffort for those that hear warnings to go and sound their car horns ? Or similar.

    Here in the UK, we still have old Air Raid sirens, tested every now and then, to warn of impending disasters.

    Church bells too.

    It's all very well being prepared for disasters, but if you're asleep when they happen, that does negate the preparations somewhat.

    Even sleeping with water, torches and batteries by your bed, given a bit of warning would I am sure be helpful.

    So, what's the procedure for early warnings, especially at night ?
    Batteries, batteries, I need more batteries ........

  2. #2

    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    There's an emergency broadcast system (EBS) built during the cold war but almost forgotten nowadays. Basically EBS radios turn themselves on when they hear a certain activation tone. But nobody buys those radios these days except maybe for some emergency personnel. The last time I heard that the EBS was activated, it was by some politician who used it to turn people's radios on and broadcast campaign ads just before an election. He got in trouble for that, but not enough.

    Occasionally there's an accident or something that requires a neighborhood to be evacuated. The police go from house to house ringing the doorbells to get people out in those situations.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    What he said.

    You can buy inexpensive 'Weather Radios' that will automatically alert you to severe weather warnings. They said on Fox News that a warning was sent out some 8-10 minutes before the tornados hit.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    Are you referring to the one that is on the regular broadcast radio bands? They're still there and they still get tested on a regular basis. Additionally TV stations and cable networks are also tested for this purpose. The one on our cable network is way too effective, it puts out this irritating alert sound that could probably wake the dead before the broadcast and at the end of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by paulr
    There's an emergency broadcast system (EBS) built during the cold war but almost forgotten nowadays.

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    Flashaholic K A's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    Here in Kansas and in Tornado ally we have Tornado sirens (think old Air Raid sirens). They get activated by the weather service when they see signs of tornados on radar. And people that have the weather radios would also get any messages.
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  6. #6
    Flashaholic* Casual Flashlight User's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    From what I can gather, these tornado's seem to have come right out of the blue...I've seen some footage of the devastation on our news channels over here...bad gear!

    BTW, abvidled..if I heard an air raid siren at night I would ignore it. We do not (to my knowledge) use them to warn of anything other than nuclear attacks. I have never heard of air raid sirens being used to warn of bad weather.


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  7. #7
    Flashaholic* abvidledUK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Casual Flashlight User
    I have never heard of air raid sirens being used to warn of bad weather.


    CFU
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brighteyez
    Are you referring to the one that is on the regular broadcast radio bands? They're still there and they still get tested on a regular basis. Additionally TV stations and cable networks are also tested for this purpose. The one on our cable network is way too effective, it puts out this irritating alert sound that could probably wake the dead before the broadcast and at the end of it.
    Yeah, there used to be a requirement that all radio stations broadcast an EBS test signal once a month, but they stopped the requirement a long time ago and I don't think I've heard an EBS test in years. There used to be a lot of jokes and parodies of the test message but probably no one would get the jokes any more.

    The real messages said something like "this is a test of the emergency broadcast system, it's only a test, if it was a real emergency you'd be instructed to follow the instructions of your local police department" and the parodies would say things like "if it was a real emergency you'd be told to kiss your a** goodbye because the bomb was about to hit" or things like that.

    They do have those stupid air raid sirens in some towns and they test them at noon (big annoyance) and I think if they activated them for some reason people would just get bothered by the noise but it wouldn't occur to them to turn on the radio.

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    Flashaholic* Coop's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    We have them here in the netherlands too, those sirens. They are actually tested every month on the first monday of the month at noon. If you hear them at another time, you know they mean business.
    The system here is used to warn the public for all kinds of major problems. The standard procedure is to go inside and close all doors and windows and turn on radio or tv. which will be used to brief the public further on whats going on.
    ... Never underestimate the power of human stupidity ...

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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    I've heard EBS testing on normal broadcast radio stations around here. And also heard a few Amber alerts being given out thru the system.

    BTW, OSU has a cold war era air raid siren. Everyone on campus forgot about it until someone played a joke and set it off the other week.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* benchmade_boy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    Quote Originally Posted by K A
    Here in Kansas and in Tornado ally we have Tornado sirens (think old Air Raid sirens). They get activated by the weather service when they see signs of tornados on radar. And people that have the weather radios would also get any messages.
    yup down here in southwest kansas we have them too. it goes off every saturday at noon for a test i guess and it always goes off before a tornado hits, even if one doesnt hit it still goes off to warn people.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    Quote Originally Posted by paulr
    Yeah, there used to be a requirement that all radio stations broadcast an EBS test signal once a month, but they stopped the requirement a long time ago and I don't think I've heard an EBS test in years.
    There is still a monthly test - they changed the format totally - no more "beeeeeeeep" - it's a bunch of computer tones "Brappp Brapp, boop boop boop boop" - takes about 10-20 seconds total including the announcments

    The big thing in any disaster prone area is to get a weather radio with SAME codes. I also get disaster alerts emailed to my home email, my WORK email (which shows up on my blackberry) and my cell phone - they pop a warning, I get all sorts of beeps and squawks all over the house

  13. #13

    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    In the US we have the NOAA broadcast and you can buy radios which will receive those and alarm based on them. My CB in my truck will receive them and the first time it went off I locked the seatbelt when I jumped. I had just left work and was halfway home and a tornado was in the area around my work.

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* Aaron1100us's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    Most towns I know of have the Public Warning Siren System for things like that. They test them once a month. Otherwise, they are usually used for tornado warnings. Pretty loud and you can hear them all over town. There aren't any in the country, just in the cities. Its allways good to watch the news, listen to the radio, monitor the National Weather Service website/radio and the local 2 meter repeater. I'm a storm spotter so I usually keep up on severe weather and if it is predicted for my area. Here is a pic of they type of siren that is used here.

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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    I strongly suggest buying a weather radio with SAME, SAME allows you to select the area you are in by county and the radio will automatically activate with an alarm when an alert is issued for your area. I have the Midland 74-200 and when I lived in Tennessee I was alerted many times to the potential of bad weather. The last summer I lived in Tennessee I saw three tornadoes on three separate occasions. Very scary. My parents still live in Tennessee and there neighborhood was destroyed about a year ago when a tornado swept through the Nashville area. The devastation was just incredible. If you live in a area where weather can be dangerous then a SAME radio could easily save your life.

    NOAA Weather Radio Link
    Last edited by Lebkuecher; 02-02-2007 at 09:35 PM.

  16. #16
    Flashaholic* abvidledUK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lebkuecher
    I strongly suggest buying a weather radio with SAME, SAME allows you to select the area you are in by county and the radio will automatically activate with an alarm when an alert is issued for your area. I have the Midland 74-200 and when I lived in Tennessee I was alerted many times to the potential of bad weather. The last summer I lived in Tennessee I saw three tornadoes on three separate occasions. Very scary. My parents still live in Tennessee and there neighborhood was destroyed about a year ago when a tornado swept through the Nashville area. The devastation was just incredible. If you live in a area where weather can be dangerous then a SAME radio could easily save your life.

    NOAA Weather Radio Link
    Nice radio, and only $few.

    I'll bet most people begrudge paying even that though.

    (Like they won't put headlights on at dusk, to save c's)

    Let's hope power doesn't go off just before warning !!

    (I see it can be 12v powered)
    Last edited by abvidledUK; 02-03-2007 at 02:50 AM.
    Batteries, batteries, I need more batteries ........

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* AndyTiedye's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    EBS tests often happened late at night (when airtime is cheap),
    which would have provided a strong incentive NOT to leave an EBS radio
    on in the bedroom while sleeping, even if you had one.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    good point; everyone here thinks we have a siren (or something) warning system for disasters..but...

    State warning system failed at crucial point
    Del Norte County didn't get notified when analysis showed wave headed for port town

    Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer
    Friday, November 17, 2006

    Problems in California's fledgling tsunami warning system were exposed in its response to Wednesday's Pacific tsunami, which unleashed waves that wreaked hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage in Crescent City.

    "There are bugs that need to be worked out," said Allen Winogradov, emergency services coordinator ...."

    rest of article:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...NG58MET1L1.DTL

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    When I lived in Indiana, I always had a weather alert radio in the bedroom and kept it on all the time. When it went off I knew there was a weather situation I needed to know about.

    In 1999, we moved to Florida and again I turned my weather radio on to alert me of impending severe weather. It didn't take long to find out that the radio alert was going off seemingly every time someone in the area farted. It was always going off. So, since it became no more than a perfect example of the boy that cried wolf, it sits unplugged under the TV in the computer room.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    Most of the newer SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) radios let you choose only the area or areas (usually counties) in the US that you want to monitor, plus there are various types of alert you can choose to monitor or not. For instance, in my area I can choose to monitor for severe winter weather and severe thunderstorms, but not for tsunamis or volcanoes (pretty rare in upstate NY), so alerts that don't concern me are eliminated.

    IIRC, these radios monitor 162.400 - 162.550 MHz and the signals are transmitted by the National Weather Service/National Weather Radio. If you search on the terms "same weather radio" you can find a lot of information about them. The NWS even provides coverage maps so you can see how likely you are to receive a signal in your area. There are pages with information on who makes these radios, what the features are and what to look for, when test signals are sent out, etc.

    My wife used to get really ticked off when one of the radios went off in the middle of the night to announce something like a winter storm watch until she realized that the alert would let her get up early enough to get to work on time. Then she figured it out that it would also wake her if there was a really serious emergency. She's gotten a lot better about it now.
    Last edited by chmsam; 02-03-2007 at 09:54 AM.
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  21. #21

    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    Actually, the EBS is now the EAS (Emergency Alert System).

    <start tech-talk mode>

    The signal consists of a SAME Header, which uses AFSK (Audio Frequency Shift Keying), with a 2083.3 Hz mark tone and 1562.5 Hz space tone, lasting 1920 μs (1.92 ms) each. The data is encoded in 7-bit ASCII but uses all 8 bits, with no parity bit and no stop bit ("8-N-0"), at a bitrate of 520.83 bits per second. The least significant bit of each byte is transmitted first.

    Then an Attention Signal is transmitted, either a 1050Hz sine wave for weather radios and/or the classic EBS toneset-a combination of 853 Hz and 960 Hz sine waves.

    Then the voice message (either live or computer synthesized (TTS)) is broadcast.

    The message ends with three bursts of the AFSK "EOM", or End of Message, which is the text NNNN, preceded each time by the binary 10101011 calibration.

    <end tech-talk mode>

    More Info Here.
    I imagine that you could in the future have an alarm system that has an EAS decoder and would trigger an alarm tone. Some EVAC (Emergency Voice Alarm Communications) fire alarm systems already have this capability, as well as recorded voice messages, eg:

    ATTENTION! ATTENTION! A SEVERE WEATHER THREAT HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR THIS AREA. PLEASE GO TO YOUR DESIGNATED SHELTER AREA! A SEVERE WEATHER THREAT HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR THIS AREA. PLEASE GO TO YOUR DESIGNATED SHELTER AREA!
    Basically the EVAC systems differ from a normal fire alarm system in that the notification appliances aren't buzzers/bells/electronic horns, but actual PA style speakers.

  22. #22
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    Cool Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    I have this radio. . It receives the EAS (Emergency Alert System) transmissions from the AM/FM band and/or the NOAA Alerts over the weather bands.

    If your in the US and would like more info, here's the PDF Manual WX-268

    It work's great! With the SAME, you can not only select the areas you'd like to cover, but also which type of messages you'd like to receive. Highly recommended!
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    Thanks everyone. It has obviously been a long time since I seriously looked at weather alert radios. Living here in Clearwater, Florida, I think I may need to take a closer look and get serious about purchasing something to warn us of severe weather.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    like many others have said there are plenty of outlets for people that could provide warning in such events but the responsibility to acquire these resources falls on the individual. And it is very easy for people to think "that will never happen to me" so they dont get the weather radios that could easily warn them because they simply dont believe they will ever be threatened...

  25. #25
    Flashaholic* matrixshaman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    I bought a Midland weather radio at Sams club a few years ago with NOAA and it works fine - on all the time in the bedroom. It's only gone off once or twice at night and never for a test. It covers nearly all types of possible disasters. It was about $30 and is a great investment. I've also got some portable ones I carry in the car. Very affordable also.
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  26. #26
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    Here in Denver, we get summertime severe thunderstorms and tornados. We had a severe hailstorm that hit my house and we got a replacement roof in July of 1990 and did $650 Million in damage. Denver has 73 All-Hazard outdoor warning sirens spread througout the Ciyy and at DIA. They are tested the second Wednesday of each month at 11:00am. Some churches and the City and County building also ring their bells at the same time. The sirens are coordinated as part of the EAS system, and all TV stations are required to participate as well. I have Direct TV, and I have never seen a warning or test there, but I understand that the local cable providers can signal when needed.

  27. #27
    Flashaholic* abvidledUK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF
    Here in Denver, we get summertime severe thunderstorms and tornados. We had a severe hailstorm that hit my house and we got a replacement roof in July of 1990 and did $650 Million in damage.
    That must have been some BIG roof !!!
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  28. #28
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    It is a giant! I should have worded that a little differently I guess. How about, it did $650 Million in damage throughout Metro Denver.


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    Just an idea, but couldn't an automated broadcast warning be adapted for SMS transmission over the cellphone networks? Probably relatively few people have the right sort of radio, whereas most people these days have a cellphone. OK, some people don't have them switched on at night, but this might encourage people in high-risk areas to leave them on.

    The warning system could be made to be selective by area, ie a warning would only go out to phones within those cell areas likely to be affected, so no-one who didn't need the warning would have to receive it.

    The technology to implement an idea like this already exists, so it would be very cheap to set the system up. It could be made to work worldwide, for severe weather, tsunamis etc in any country - for post-disaster information messages too (if the cell system is still working).

    Or has someone already thought of this? If so, I haven't heard about it.

  30. #30
    Flashaholic* abvidledUK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night-time Disaster Early Warning ?

    Home phones too ?

    No need for message, just a particular type of ring.
    Batteries, batteries, I need more batteries ........

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