As National Emergency Preparedness Month wraps up, Riley County Emergency Management reminds the community there are several reasons it could be unsafe to be outdoors, such as severe weather; hazardous materials; or some other imminent threat. Director Russel Stukey reminds the community that the Outdoor Warning Sirens are used for anytime there is an imminent danger to the public.
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Public Information Officer Vivienne Uccello understands the public tends to think of the sirens as indication of tornadic activity. But, she stresses the sirens are meant to warn people to go indoors because of a tornado or other imminent threats.
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She encourages the community to sign up for local alerts through Everbridge. It’s a free service offered by Riley County, and other counties in Northeastern Kansas. Notifications can be received via texts, emails, or phone calls.  The location and type of alerts are customized by the recipient, who can even receive alerts from multiple counties. Uccello says the sirens were sounded on September 17th for damaging winds.
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Emergency Management Coordinator Laurie Harrison stresses, the Outdoor Warning Sirens are to alert people who are outdoors. She gives an example from the most recent sounding of the sirens in Manhattan.
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That time the sirens were activated for Ogden and Southern Manhattan, but all sirens within the city limits sounded because some sirens are tied together: Manhattan and Ogden; Leonardville and Riley; Randolph and University Park; and Keats. Sirens are tested monthly and spotters are assigned to monitor the tests. Leonardville’s siren has been operating properly every month since May. It was not activated during the most recent weather event because the threat was located much further south.
The National Weather Service sends alerts based on their own warning boundaries, which caused some confusion. Riley County has since updated their policy to send additional alerts when sirens are sounded. Always seek shelter indoors when sirens are sounded; then consult media, emergency alerts, or apps for further instructions.
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