Word came down recently that many Joplin residents either ignored or were slow to react to the first warning sirens about the May 22nd tornado. Years of false alarms were to blame.
I don't know how many of the 162 people who died ignored the warnings, but there's a chance that some of them would still be alive today. It's believed that many people waited for more information like seeing the tornado themselves or a television report about the urgency of the threat before taking cover.
A majority of survivors admitted that they did not go to their shelter after receiving the first warning. This was because of a disregard for tornado sirens. Still, it is unclear if the slow response actually cost lives.
It's hard to tell how many people who died in the tornado didn't take shelter. It was such a large powerful tornado, that even people who took the proper shelter before it struck could have perished.
For those who waited for more information before taking cover, it may have helped if the wording reflected the situation. For instance, they could have been told that it was a very large and dangerous tornado that shouldn't be taken lightly.
Another idea would be to provide different siren tones depending on the seriousness of the situation. However, tornado sirens aren't 100% reliable. Some people can't hear them from inside their homes. That is why our Weather Call system is so valuable. We will call you if your home is in the exact path of a tornado. You are more likely to hear your phone than you would a siren that is outside. So please consider clicking on our Frank's Weather Call link on this web site to sign up.
Let's not forget, Joplin is a city of 50,000 people. The tornado took out the southwest side of the city. No doubt several people survived by hearing the warning and taking cover immediately.
Let's hope none of us ever find ourselves in that situation, but if we do, please don't wait for more information before taking cover.
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