Friday, August 17, 2012

Week 30 of 2012 - Sirens, Tornado Sirens and other warning devices....

Emergency warnings....they come in all shapes and sizes.  I remember the fire drills of South Grade School, Romeo Junior High and Romeo Senior High where we were to orderly evacuate the building using the correct door, and end up precisely "so many feet" away from the building.  It was usually a great 15 minute break from routine that caused the teachers another 15 minutes of classtime by the time everyone was settled back into their seats and the lessons resumed.  There were a few tornado drills where we were herded into the hallways sitting on the floor facing the wall with a hardcover textbook on our head.  I remember many of us trying to walk from the room to our spot balancing the book on our head...with varying degrees of success.  Actually, more books dropped than balanced and kids stopping to retrieve the protective headgear caused multiple kid pileups and more books plopping on the floor!  But North Grade School in Romeo, Michigan, was where everyone wanted to be for fire drills....they had a fire escape chute/slide on the north and south sides.  Wheeeee, and down the slide you went.  It was also a great place for recess until a teacher or principal put an end to it.  My husband attended North Grade School and says it was a favorite climbing, sliding place for every recess!

I also remember Mom telling the story of how we....Mom, Dad and baby Pam...made our first move as a family.  Residing on Skinner Lake until June, 1953, the story goes that Dad was driving an open truck with all of our belongings including Mom and 2 year old Pam, from the lake to Park Street in downtown Lapeer as the F5 Flint-Beecher tornado was killing 116 and injuring 844 along its 27 mile path through Genesee and Lapeer counties in Michigan.  Mom said that when we pulled into the driveway (we were moving to the second floor of the house owned by Grandpa Everett and Grandma Lillian who lived on the first floor), we were met by Dad's frantic and worried parents.  Unknowingly, the Harold Smith family had moved along almost parallel to the storm, not knowing how serious the storm had become.  No warning systems were available...

Today we have all the watches, warnings and emergency preparedness anyone could want...our parents and grandparents would be amazed at the "safe" world that we must now live in.  With television, computers, smart phones and centralized call systems within our communities, how could we not be totally prepared and protected?  We get warning calls on our phones for school closings, chemical spills and inclement weather.  The television interrupts or eliminates regular programming to broadcast the what, where, when and why of the latest emergency.  The television even has their own "test" of emergency broadcasting complete with a siren that is, or used to be, well known in every household.  "THIS IS JUST A TEST....THIS IS JUST A TEST.  IF THIS WAS AN ACTUAL EMERGENCY, YOU WOULD BE INSTRUCTED TO TUNE TO.......FOR UP TO DATE INFORMATION.  THIS IS A TEST OF THE EMERGENCY BROADCAST SYSTEM."  I remember as a child being freaked out when that would come on the television.

SO...are we safe?  Do the sirens, watches and warnings work?  Are we safer than our previous generations?  In some ways, I'm sure we are.  In other ways, it seems overdone...especially on television when an impending snowstorm is talked about for days before, schools are closed, events canceled and the crescendo of hype is deflated like a noisy, untied balloon.  BUT, thanks to all who try to keep us safe.  We are better off to pay attention and heed the warnings than to WISH we had afterwards.

1 comment: