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What Are Those Sirens?

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What Are Those Sirens?

So what is all that racket we hear occasionally that sounds a lot like sirens wailing in the night? It’s not tornado season in the Palatine area is it? 

Well if you weren’t aware of it, tornadoes can occur at any time of the year with the greatest number occurring in the Midwest during the months of March through August. However, as we experienced on the night of September 22, 2006 they can happen in months other than during the peak period.

As people who have lived in the area for any length of time know, Illinois and the metropolitan Chicago area are not immune from tornadoes.  In fact, we are situated at the northern edge of an area referred to as “Tornado Alley”.  Statistically, Illinois averages 31 tornadoes a year.  In 2003 there were a record setting 120 tornadoes, resulting in two deaths, 81 injuries, and over $40 million in damage. Although 2005 spun up only 17 in Illinois, there were more than 30 in 2011.


Other than the test at 10:00 a.m. on first Tuesday of each month, a Tornado Warning in our area is the ONLY reason why the Village’s ten outdoor warning sirens would be activated.  While most people are aware of what the sirens mean, particularly during a storm, there are some who may not. 

So, lets review what to do and what not do when the sirens sound:

  • TAKE COVER!  The sirens are primarily to alert people who are outdoors.  Get indoors, preferably in a basement or a small interior room if a basement is not available.  If there is no shelter available close by, lie flat, face down, in a ditch or low area and cover your head until the tornado passes.
  • If you are already inside, go to the basement or lowest level of the building.  Move to an interior room, staying away from outside walls, windows, and doors.
  • Avoid places with wide-span roofs, such as auditoriums, gymnasiums, and cafeterias.
  • Listen to the radio or television for further updates.  Have a battery-operated radio and flashlight with you as power failures often occur during severe weather.
  • DO NOT call 9-1-1 or other police or fire department numbers for siren information.  Assume the sirens are sounding for a reason and take appropriate action.  Call 9-1-1 only if you have an emergency requiring police, fire, or ambulance response.
  • If you are already indoors, you may not be able to hear the sirens.  Be aware of conditions outside and listen to your radio or television for watches or warnings if the weather appears to be threatening.
  • There is no “All Clear” siren signal.  If you hear sirens again, it is because of an additional sighting and warning.  Again, seek shelter!
  • Purchase an inexpensive weather radio that alerts you of severe weather in the area. A National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) radio is one of the best ways of preparing for and responding to severe weather such as thunderstorms and tornadoes.
  • If you do not own a NOAA weather radio, tune into 1660 on your AM radio dial which is Palatine’s own emergency alerting radio station. The station broadcasts NOAA weather alerts, watches and warnings.

For more information on tornado and severe weather preparedness, visit the Village of Palatine web site at      

Last Updated on Monday, 04 March 2013 15:07  


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Home Palatine EMA News What Are Those Sirens?