May 17, 2012

Noise Pollution and Our Ineffective Alarm System


Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2012 8:05 PM
To: 'joel.hanson@ci.little-canada.mn.us'
Subject: Just noise pollution?

Joel,

You probably can't do anything about this, but if anyone in the city has a voice in this stuff I hoped it might be you. I saw a news program the other day that talked about the fact that our emergency warning systems have been found ineffective. This is everywhere, not just Little Canada. People don't pay attention to the alarms and if we ever have a real natural catestrophe that will be a big reason why more lives will be lost than necessary.

In Little Canada, the alarm system appears to be completely abused by the city. For some idiotic reason, it wails at noon and 6PM everyday just to contribute something to the town's already excessive noise pollution. We all have clocks, cell phones, watches, and radio/televisions so I'm pretty sure we can figure out when to eat lunch and dinner without an alarm to "warn" us of the time. The alarm fires off when the volunteer fire department is notified of some emergency, although I imagine those volunteers all have cell phones and get the same message via phone and the rest of us have no need to hear about the alarm unless it's our house burning.

That leaves the only time the alarm ought to be sounding as a rarity; severe storm and tornado warnings. With the multitude of useless "warnings" going off on regular and spasmodic intervals, I suspect that fewer than 5% of the city's residents know or care about the difference in siren patterns and tones and most of us probably ignore it all as we try to ignore the constant drone of the freeway and the usual Harley noise-making crowd who parade through our streets announcing their presence. I would not be surprised if the city could hold some liability for trivializing the alarm system if it is ignored at the cost of lives when a real emergency exists. At a minimum, it would be proper for the city to review current obsolute policy regarding the regular sounding of this silly system. At best, the whole system should be updated and the city should make a concerted effort to inform the residents when the damn thing is not to be ignored.

Regards,
Tom Day

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Guess it isn't too hard to figure out what each siren is intended for. I enjoy the small town feeling of the sirens and even my children know what each siren is sounded for.

daGeezer said...

That's an interesting perspective. I lived in a lot of Midwestern small towns during my first 30 years of life and never experienced programmed noon and six noise before Little Canada. I don't get the "small town feeling" caused by unnecessary noise. One of the draws small towns have is quiet. Of course, Little Canada is out of luck in that regard. Most recently, we had a party in our backyard and when the 6PM alarm went off, everyone looked at me wondering what that was about. The expressions were similar to what you seen when some bozo blubbers through the neighborhood on an unmuffled Harley.

When I explained the "purpose" of the noise, most of our friends said "I couldn't live somewhere with that going on." For the rest of my life, it will be something I ask about before I consider buying property in a town or city.

If you do a Google search on "emergency siren confusion," you'll find plenty of evidence that the sirens are ineffective and obsolete, when used for actual emergencies. However, it should be common sense that dilutes alarms for non-emergencies dillutes the siren effectiveness when there is an actual emergency. This is an interesting article about one county trying to clean up the siren mess: http://www.fox19.com/story/17274377/changes-coming-to-severe-weather-warning-system?clienttype=printable.

Anonymous said...

Hey Joel,
If you ever want to write up a petition to stop the abuse of the siren, I'm on your side. Just send your petition up Noel Dr.

Hope you guys can save Savage Lake too.

Anonymous said...

I meant to address Tom, not Joel.