Kettering mistakenly activates tornado warning siren during dispatcher training


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Kettering, Ohio – Many Kettering residents were awoken this morning around 5:30 A.M. by the shrill sound of a tornado warning siren sounding. According to several Facebook posts, the siren caused numerous families to scramble for their basements believing that it was a legitimate tornado warning. The siren sounded for nearly 5 minutes before it went silent.

In a Facebook post that was released at about 8:13 A.M., the Kettering Police Department announced that there was no severe weather in the region this morning and that the siren was sounded by mistake. The post clarified that “The siren was inadvertently activated during a training exercise at the KPD dispatch center.” The post also assured residents that the Emergency Alert System is functioning correctly and apologized for the inconvenience.

KPD has since clarified that the siren was activated by “human error”. While KPD did not provide details on the type of training that was being conducted, they did say that “The training was being conducted as part of in-service training mandated by the state of Ohio.” When asked why it took 5 minutes to deactivate the mistakenly activated siren, KPD said that the reason for the siren was sounded for 5 minutes is a matter that is still under investigation.

Residents were correct to be concerned when they heard the warning siren sound. Kettering uses 9 sirens throughout the city that are used to warn residents of two types of emergencies. First, when Kettering’s sirens emit a hi-lo oscillating tone the City is warning residents of Civil Defense Emergency.

But the far more common warning is of an impending disaster, such as a tornado warning. For emergencies such as tornado warnings, Kettering’s sirens sound a constant non-oscillating tone. Kettering says that when residents hear the warning siren, they should immediately seek shelter in a basement or interior room and tune into a radio or TV broadcast for further details on the emergency situation. Kettering says that it is very important to monitor radio or television broadcasts during an actual emergency to learn when the emergency has passed because the City does not use the sirens to give any sort of all-clear signal

There is one situation where residents can generally ignore the siren. Kettering usually tests the sirens on the first Monday of each month at 12:00 P.M. These tests usually last around 90 seconds, except for January, April, July, and October when the sirens are tested for a full three minutes. Kettering will not test the sirens on labor day, during Holiday at Home festivities, or if impending severe weather on a test day would result in the siren causing undue panic.

Some residents stated on Facebook this morning that they did not hear the siren sound. Even when all 9 sirens are sounded simultaneously it is not uncommon that residents indoors will not hear them because Kettering says that the sirens were originally designed to notify people outdoors to seek shelter during an emergency situation. Consequently, when the weather may be severe, residents should monitor it via radio, television, or smartphone apps so that they know when to take shelter.

Another option is purchasing a National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) enabled radio. NOAA stations broadcast weather 24-7 and these stations are one of the fastest ways to be alerted to a severe thunderstorm or tornado emergency. Kettering receives NOAA broadcasts from Miamisburg on station WXJ46. WXJ46 is a 1000 Watt station that operates at 162.475 MHz. This station can only be accessed with a radio that is specially equipped with NOAA frequencies. You can purchase NOAA radios from most electronic stores and from most online electronics retailers. NOAA stations will broadcast an audible alert when a warning is being issued. Some NOAA receivers can also be connected to alert signaling systems to wake those who are hearing impaired or deaf so that they do not miss an emergency warning.

When a tornado strikes, minutes or seconds, can mean the difference between life and death. So never, even when you think it might be a mistake as it was Thursday morning, ignore tornado warning sirens. Always check radio or TV stations, a reliable smartphone weather app, or a NOAA radio to verify whether or not there is a weather emergency. And be prepared for when it is a real tornado warning. You can visit
to learn more about tornado safety.

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