The reviews are in of the village’s new tornado siren system after it underwent its first big test on Sunday when heavy storms rolled through the area: it blows.
It seems that Oak Lawn residents, being the traditionalists that they are, prefer the old civil defense siren system with its rising and falling wail that signaled a nuclear attack from the Red Menace.
This new state-of-the-art system, purchased with $120,000 of grant money last year, replaced the village’s Red Menace-sounding, 25-year-old tornado sirens. The replacement system was touted as offering better sound coverage and voice capabilities that can relay warning messages in four different languages: English, Spanish, Polish and Arabic.
Not only could the system be used to warn residents of impending weather events, it can also be employed during chemical spills and terrorist attacks.
When the new tornado sirens were being installed and tested over the summer, Patch invariably fielded panicky messages from residents worried about the voices they heard blaring through their neighborhood on our Facebook page. Usually this happened at 10 a.m. the first Tuesday of the month when Illinois municipalities test their civil warning systems.
According to village officials, the new system is designed to be heard outside by people who aren’t near a radio, so if you’re at an Oak Lawn or Westside Baseball game and the sirens go off, you can take shelter.
Since it’s been about 30 years when I last walked around with a transistor radio glued to my ear, I guess I don’t need my iPhone anymore.
This new system is not designed to be heard inside the house or other buildings, which explains why a lot of readers complained of not being able to hear the sirens or the warning messages in four different languages when they went off early Sunday afternoon.
A reader posted on the Oak Lawn Patch Facebook page that she had to open her door so she could hear the voice warnings, only to complain that the voices were too garbled and muffled to hear over the wind.
Fortunately, I had my windows open.
At last week’s village board meeting, it was announced that Oak Lawn was partnering with Walgreens and Advocate Christ Medical Center to offer coupons that would enable residents to purchase discounted weather radios to be used indoors in tandem with the new fangled siren system.
The coupons will be made available through the six district trustees from Dec. 2 through Dec. 6. After Dec. 7, which ironically is Pearl Harbor Day, residents can pick up the weather radio coupons at the Walgreens at 95th Street and Cicero Avenue.
As village officials continue to
fine-tune the new tornado sirens, they may want to pay heed to this
helpful feedback from the taxpayers of Oak Lawn:
MaryPat Hofer -- "Used to be able to hear the old sirens with windows closed."Margaret Brindl-Maal -- "Can't hear the new system with the windows open. I live a block from it too. Go back to the old sirens."
Janet Osterloh -- "Right, open the windows. In November. Gimme the old tornado siren. At least you knew what that was. Can't hear or understand this one."
Shannon Abrham -- "So we can hear the mumbled voices that you cant understand, the siren isnt even as loud anymore."
Kevin Ford -- "I'm putting my horn next to my ear, in case the quietest, most jumbled warning siren in the history of warning sirens goes off. Oh, that'll be remedied by the discount weather radios we all buy."
Ed Tierney -- "We should all just get weather radios. Those sirens are louder than the new system."
Tammy Jennings -- "I live 5 houses from village hall and even with windows open I can't hear it. I rely on the Weather Channel not my village."
Andrew Aguinaga -- "5 different languages? How about FREAKING ENGLISH. God, I'm glad I left Oak Lawn. Freaking criminal Blagojevich, illegal safe haven state. This crap right here makes me proud to say I'm an EX resident of the communist state of Illinois, no longer part of its criminal ways. You disgust me Illinois."
Cindy Estrada Tori -- "Did it give the warning already because i didnt hear nothing??"
Valerie Girote Ross -- "A siren should be an international warning. Why should it even say more than seek shelter and loudly let off the siren. I thought we were being attacked by another country the first time I heard it. So ridiculous."
Becky Staszak -- "I HATE the new one... It's creepy, incoherent, nor is it loud enough. I can't hear it with the windows open or closed! Bring back the old one already!! It worked much better! So dumb!"
Amal Ramadan -- "We live near one but couldn't understand it..not in English nor in Arabic…"
Justin Marcinkowski -- "Yeah a tornado is coming. Open up your windows so you can hear someone tell it in a language you don't understand.....ass clowns."
Tom Palka -- "The wind isn't the only thing that blows in Oak Lawn."
Valeri Newton Jeziorczak -- "I did hear the initial siren and then it went into the talking part. I had to open my window and give it my full attention to hear the words. I was able to hear it but if the tornado did come I would have probably been blown away as I had to sit by the window to listen."
Megan McNerney -- "The voices remind me of Hunger Games. Get rid of it."
Lisa PepsiGirl -- "I have called multiple times about the new tornado siren. I have been informed we are not suppose to be able to hear the sirens inside the house. The only reason I heard them today was because I opened my front door to look outside. Is there going to be anything done about this situation? It seems this is a problem that is affecting all of Oak Lawn residents. I never had a problem hearing the old sirens with all my windows and doors shut."