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Elwood Skarpness, Published August 21 2010

Everyone in tornado country needs to have an ‘indoor siren'

In response to the July 28 Forum article “Sirens unintended to be heard indoors”:

In our bedroom, about 1:30 a.m., Tuesday morning, July 27, our seven-channel weather alert radio, which was plugged in next to our bed, gave a loud siren sound, and it continued until I pressed the weather alert message button. The NOAA National Weather Service then came on, giving information regarding the tornado warning for the various counties of eastern North Dakota, including Sargent County, where we live.

We have had our weather alert radio for about 10 years. It has many unique features. In addition to the AC plug-in adapter, it also has a 9-volt battery backup in the event of an AC power outage. The 9-volt battery backup also keeps the radio working if you unplug it and take it along to the basement or storm shelter area. In this way, one can continue to receive information on the tornado warnings.

The weather radio can also be taken along in the car provided you have extra 9-volt batteries to provide power over a long period of time. If you have a 12-volt DC to AC power inverter to plug into a 12-volt cigarette lighter in the car, you could use the AC adapter plug-in the same as in the house.

The seven-channel weather alert radio we have receives the NOAA National Weather notices from a tower located near Fort Ransom, N.D. Current weather and long-range weather conditions can also be checked any time of the day or night, even on days when the weather is not stormy.

Our weather radio also comes on to give warnings for Amber Alerts, blizzards, floods, hazardous-material or chemical spills, high winds, law enforcement alerts, etc., or any situation where public threats may exist.

When one is advised to take shelter in the event of a tornado, one should also have a portable AM/FM radio to take along with the weather radio to receive additional specific weather information for the local area.

When taking shelter from a tornado, it would also be wise to wear a bike helmet to prevent head injury and also take your cell phone, checkbook, important documents, plus vital medications, etc.

Also have a flashlight in case the AC power goes out. If you take shelter in the basement, turn off the water supply so you don’t drown if you get trapped in the basement.

The weather radio we have can be purchased in Fargo-Moorhead electronics stores for about $20. Cheaper weather radios are available but will have fewer options than the $20 version.