Outdoor Warning Sirens

Have you ever wondered why you can't hear outdoor warning sirens during severe weather? Do you know if your city has outdoor warning sirens? Some of the most common questions we receive in emergency management are about "tornado sirens".

The accurate term for the sirens is Outdoor Warning Sirens because they are an all-hazards alerting system. In the past, they may have been used for civil defense or "air-raid" warnings as well as for weather. Some jurisdictions have policies in which they are activated for severe thunderstorms with hail and damaging winds, hazardous materials spills, as well as for tornadoes.
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Outdoor warning sirens are NOT meant to be used as a warning system for people inside homes or buildings and should never be relied upon to wake you up. The outdoor warning sirens are meant to alert people outdoors that severe weather is imminent and they should seek shelter immediately. Remember to never call 9-1-1 when you hear sirens sound unless you have a true emergency that requires police or fire response. Since lives could be at stake, 9-1-1 phone lines must remain clear in order to address true emergencies in a timely manner. 
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Currently, the cities of Rockwall and Rowlett are the only cities within Rockwall County that have an outdoor warning system. The City of Rockwall tests the system on the first and third Wednesday of the month at 2:00 pm. The current map of the sirens can be seen here:
http://www.rockwall.com/pz/GIS/maps/WarningSirens.pdf

Please click here for the City of Rockwall Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Public Emergency Warning Systems, including the activation of outdoor warning sirens. 

More information about the City of Rowlett's outdoor warning system can be found at: http://www.ci.rowlett.tx.us/index.aspx?NID=1338

The cities of Heath, McLendon-Chisholm, Fate and Royse City do not have outdoor warning sirens. It is important for residents in these cities to have multiple ways to receive warnings in your home/office and during outdoor activities. We strongly suggest a NOAA all-hazards weather radio to keep in your home and office. There are also numerous apps available for weather alerts and all county residents are encouraged to sign up for our free emergency notification system called Nixle. To sign up for Nixle, text RCOEM to 888777 or visit nixle.com.

What to Do When a Siren Sounds

If you hear a siren:

  • Remain calm.
  • Make sure that it is not a siren test.
  • Seek sturdy shelter immediately.
  • Make your way to a ground floor, interior room, away from windows and exterior walls.
  • Turn on a radio or television to a local station for more information about what the specific hazard is.
  • Check your mobile device for any alerts from the National Weather Service. Check official social media accounts but be wary of rumors and misinformation from unofficial sources.
  • Pay careful attention to any instructions.
  • Take action, especially any that is recommended by official sources, to protect yourself and your family.
  • Unless told otherwise, stay indoors until the emergency has ended.