Kent State sounds whistle for Severe Weather Awareness Week

Kiera Manion-Fischer

Sirens to sound tomorrow as part of statewide drill

Gov. Ted Strickland has declared this week as Ohio’s Severe Weather Awareness Week, and tomorrow, Kent State will test its outdoor tornado sirens at 9:50 a.m.

The test is part of a statewide tornado drill, but students are not required to take shelter, said Dan Fitzpatrick, associate director of public safety at Kent State.

“I’d encourage them to take the time to look over the tornado shelters in their buildings,” he said.

Robert Collins, manager of Occupational Health and Safety, said a tornado drill would be too disruptive to classes and that some students might not be awake yet.

“It’s an unusual time for the sirens,” he said.

The sirens are tested twice a month, at 11 a.m. the first Wednesday and 6:30 p.m. the third Wednesday.

Collins said he looked at all the academic buildings three weeks ago to make sure all the tornado signs were in place and clearly visible.

“Some of them had faded signs that needed to be updated,” he said.

Collins added new signs to the Gym Annex. Tornado shelters are generally located in the basements or away from windows on the ground level of buildings.

As part of the test, tornado sirens will sound for three minutes and alert monitors will go off in the buildings. Alert monitors are pager-like devices that convey emergency messages from the police dispatcher to every department office on campus.

The Kent State Police Department is working to install a public address system so that emergency information will be broadcast to all students. The system should be in place by the beginning of next semester.

The city of Kent, Franklin Township and Kent State are participating in the test this week. In the event of an actual tornado, the sirens would sound for nine minutes. Students should remain in the shelter for 20 minutes after the siren has stopped.

Kent Safety Director William Lillich said the sirens are not only used for tornadoes, but in any emergency when they need to get information to the public quickly. Information about the type and nature of the emergency would be available on 1620 WPND-AM.

Contact safety reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].