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Local News

Emergency officials explain outdoor siren use in Will County

Emergency officials explain outdoor siren use in Will County

Plainfield Police Chief Jon Konopek said hearing the outdoor sirens is a rare occurrence in the village.

In the past five years, the sirens have gone off twice at the most, Konopek said. The village of Plainfield and the Plainfield Emergency Management Agency operate 14 warning sirens for serious weather events and major emergencies.

“It’s a very rare occurrence when we set the sirens off,” Konopek said, who also is the director of the Plainfield Emergency Management Agency.

Plainfield is one of many towns across Will County that have outdoor sirens to alert people of tornadoes, funnel clouds, severe storms and chemical spills, according to the Will County Emergency Management Agency. Sirens are tested at 10 a.m. the first Tuesday of every month and they typically are meant for people who are outdoors.

“They can be used to alert the public for an evacuation. I think over time, they have become synonymous with tornado warnings,” Will County Emergency Management Agency Chief Deputy Director Tom Murray said.

When the sirens go off, Konopek said, people should not call 911 to ask why. They should seek shelter immediately in the basement of their home and not go outside, he said.

“They should not be going outside to videotape the tornado or funnel cloud,” Konopek said.

He said sirens in Plainfield can be activated at the Wescom 911 dispatch center and the Plainfield Emergency Management Agency’s garage. The sirens will be activated if the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning or if a trained weather spotter sees the formation of a funnel cloud or tornado, Konopek said.

If there is only one report of severe weather from a weather spotter, personnel from the police or fire departments, or the emergency management agency will be sent to the area to confirm it, Konopek said.

Joliet has sirens placed in “strategic locations throughout the city,” according to the police department’s website.

Sirens will be activated if there is a tornado warning issued by the National Weather Service, if any part of Joliet is within a Tornado Warning Polygon issued by the weather service or if there are sustained winds greater than 65 mph, police said.

Murray said towns in Will County will have their own procedures on when to activate sirens.

“Generally speaking, they’re going to look at activating them for things like tornado warnings or high-wind events,” Murray said.

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