Emergency Warning Systems
Natural and man-made disasters are not easily predicted, so it’s very important that people take steps to become prepared for an emergency today. One of those steps is learning how you will be notified of protective actions to be taken in an emergency.
Warning the public in the event of an emergency is one of the key functions of Tooele County Emergency Management (TCEM). The timely notification of an impending threat or danger may help people take life-saving actions and may mitigate widespread injuries. The emergency warning systems are a crucial element in Tooele County’s Emergency Plans.
There are several ways you may be informed of an emergency. They include, but aren’t limited to, the Emergency Alert System (on radio and TV); the Outdoor Warning System (sirens and highway message boards); and the Indoor Warning System (tone alert radios).
Emergency Alert System
The Emergency Alert System, or EAS, is the fastest and most effective way to warn the public of an emergency. The EAS is the successor to the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), which began in 1964. It was upgraded in 1997 to include digital communications and automation technology, and to eliminate several problems that developed with the EBS.
Now the EAS can be activated by a government authority by simply sending a radio signal with digital headers that contain the type of warning, the areas involved, and the issuing authority, as well as the entire emergency message for the public. The Federal Communications Commission mandates that the EAS is only for WARNING of an imminent threat to life or property.
The primary EAS radio station for Tooele County is KSL 1160AM, and 102.7FM;
the secondary station is KWDZ 910AM. If the Emergency Alert System is activated, other broadcast stations should also pick up the message and begin broadcasting it to the public.
The Emergency Alert System can broadcast much more detailed messages than can be sent out over the Outdoor Warning System.
Outdoor Warning System --sirens
Tooele County’s Outdoor Warning System consists of a network of
sirens. It is ready to be used in the event of a hazardous material spill, for natural disasters, or for any other emergency if necessary.
The sirens are an all-hazards warning system. Tooele County
emergency authorities can activate the sirens for any reason they
deem necessary, such as a severe storm warning, wildfires, or
The siren system is capable of emitting several different tones. To lesson confusion, Tooele County uses a “whoop-whoop” tone for weekly tests and for real emergencies. Emergency Managers have agreed to allow some fire departments to use the sirens to summon firefighters for duty. That tone is different. It’s a “wail” tone that sounds like a fire engine siren.
Each siren tone is preceded and followed by a pre-recorded or live message. The messages give brief and concise emergency instructions. The pre-recorded messages include warnings concerning emergency situations to avoid, instructions for evacuating, or instructions for taking shelter-in-place. Once you hear the sirens activated, you should tune to an Emergency Alert System station for further emergency information.
Each siren can be activated individually, in regional groups, or as an entire system. It’s imperative that you follow instructions given on the siren which you can hear, immediately and exactly.
Tooele County tests the siren system audibly every Wednesday at 4:00pm, and silently at least twice a day.
|Indoor Warning System --tone alert radios
Tooele County Emergency Management also plans to use an Indoor Warning System known as Tone Alert Radios, in the event of an emergency. The tone alert radio picks up National Weather Service alerts and forecasts. TCEM has arranged with the National Weather Service to override the weather broadcasts and use the same frequency to send out emergency messages to the public.
TCEM recommends that everyone living within reach of the broadcast signal
should purchase a tone alert radio for a small cost at most electronics stores.
Tooele County’s Indoor Warning System is a backup to the Emergency Alert System. The messages broadcast over the tone alert radios may be the same as those given over the Emergency Alert System. They would give more details for taking protective actions than messages you would hear over the sirens.
It’s the responsibility of the homeowner to keep the tone alert radio plugged in at all times, and to keep a fresh, back-up battery installed in the radio.
TCEM has also placed tone alert radios in public buildings that may be affected during an emergency. They include all of the local schools, Tooele County Health Department, Mountain West Medical Center Emergency Room, and Deseret Peak Complex.
Tooele County emergency managers consider each of these four emergency warning systems a vital link to emergency preparedness and hope they give an additional layer of comfort and protection to those who live and work here.
Outdoor Warning System --highway message boards
Tooele County also includes 21 highway message boards in its Outdoor Warning System. You may notice them along the highways in
Tooele and Rush Valleys.
The highway message boards are another way of getting potentially life-saving information to the entire public in a timely manner. For instance, someone traveling in a car may not hear the sirens, or may not be tuned to an Emergency Alert System station.
The messages may contain information such as: “Risk Area, No Entry, Tune to AM 1160 for Info” or “Warning, Hazard Ahead, Turn Around Now”. The message boards could also be used to send weather warnings and road conditions to travelers.