Central Crossing Fire Protection District reminds how to stay alert without storm sirens in Shell Knob, Mo.

Published: May. 4, 2022 at 10:13 PM CDT
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SHELL KNOB, Mo. (KY3) - Emergency responders have a severe weather safety reminder for Stone and Barry Counties.

Neither county has tornado sirens in certain rural areas.

If you drive through Shell Knob, you won’t find a single tornado siren nearby. The area has not had one since 2010 when Stone County dismantled them.

”And now there are no sirens, at least for our area at all,” said Central Crossing Fire Protection District Chief Rusty Rickland. “Stone or Barry, neither one.”

While bigger cities in both counties may have sirens, rural areas like Shell Knob do not. Cost is partially to blame, but the landscape is another issue. Rickland said the area’s topography, population centers, recreation areas, and geographic size would require multiple siren units.

”With the sirens, mostly designed to be an outdoor warning, you of course have to be very close to hear those sirens and get that alert,” he said.

Rickland said the fact there are no sirens in Shell Knob is fairly common knowledge in the area, but he said it is always important to remind residents and visitors this time of year.

“The next few weeks look to be pretty active with storms moving through this area,” he said. “Just want to make people aware.”

There are other ways people living in the area can still stay safe, Rickland said.

”Apps on their phones, TV, AM/FM radio, weather radios,” he described. “There are all kinds of alert systems and app systems.”

Barry County also has a RAVE mass notification system. Anyone can sign up for those warnings through the Barry County Office of Emergency Management. The alerts are free to users.

”Those warnings come out very, very rapidly,” said Barry County Office of Emergency Management Director David Compton. “Our most recent severe warnings came out less than a minute after the national weather service issued their their warning. It was actually going out to our RAVE customers.”

Compton said outdoor sirens are only intended to alert those who are currently outdoors during a storm. He said the other notification systems should help people stay alerted around the clock no matter where they are.

“With the prevalence of weather radio, programs like RAVE, and all the other commercial programs out there, warnings are something that everyone should be able to receive 24 hours a day.,” Compton said.

Chief Rickland also said there are not any public storm shelters in Shell Knob, but if you have a personal one you should go ahead and document it with your county.

“We encourage residents to let their 911 call centers know,” he said. “That information is saved primarily just in case of an emergency. In case somebody were to be trapped in that shelter or something, we can go back in and search those areas and know that there could possibly be someone in that shelter.”

Cities like Monett have public shelters, but some other rural areas do not.

“Sheltering is one of those things that we don’t want to ask you to get out in the middle of a storm and travel more than five minutes,” Compton explained.

If you do not have access to a nearby public storm shelter, he suggests you create a safety plan right away.

”We want you to go to the lowest floor possible,” Compton said. “The most interior room possible, and that’s your shelter. Identify where that location is today so that when you get the warning, there’s no hesitation, no second thought. You know immediately where to go and seek shelter.”

You can sign up for those free Barry County RAVE alerts online. You will have the option of getting an email, text, or voice message alerts. Click this link to register.

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