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Oakland Co. Homeland Security: Sirens should never be ignored

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Theodore Quisenberry with Oakland County Homeland Security says warning sirens should always be taken seriously.  (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com) Theodore Quisenberry with Oakland County Homeland Security says warning sirens should always be taken seriously. (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com)
OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. (WJBK) -

"Well, I got up, getting ready for work, came out ... and heard the sirens go off.  It was kind of a surprise because I didn't think there was any kind of tornado activity," said Oakland County resident Jeff Matthews.

It used to be that you would only here a siren before a tornado, but not anymore.  Warning siren systems are now much more advanced, and for now on you'll hear alarms more often.

"Oakland County is very aggressive in its siren campaign.  I think we have 250 plus sirens spread out across the county," said Theodore Quisenberry with Oakland County Homeland Security.

258 to be exact lit up on a computer screen 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  They are near schools, malls, and open places where people may not know what's coming.

"Primarily what we're concerned with are tornado warnings and/or severe thunderstorm warnings with damaging winds over 70 miles per hour," Quisenberry said.

The people at Oakland County's Homeland Security Division decide when to sound the alarm.  Quisenberry says they should never be ignored.

"Any time you hear the sirens go off, you take it very seriously.  We don't put them off unless there is a reason for it.  When the alarm is sounded, if you're outside, go inside, seek shelter inside."

When it comes to bad weather, it's bigger than just where you live.  What's happening in a neighboring county could be headed your way.

"Say the tornado that went through Washtenaw County two months ago and look at what happened with it as far as the number of injuries or fatalities.  None.  There wasn't any because the alert system was so on top of what's coming that way you could alert the people," Quisenberry said.  "Nobody gets caught by surprise."

At 1:00 p.m. the first Saturday of every month from March to November, all 258 warning sirens will sound in Oakland County, but that's only a test.  Still, you can use that as an opportunity to come up with an action plan for you and your family.  There are tips for how to do that on the Oakland County Homeland Security website at www.oakgov.com/homelandsecurity.

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