Outdoor Warning Siren System FAQs

Why is the Outdoor Warning Siren System activated?

Under the Hamilton County Outdoor Warning Siren System guidelines, sirens will be sounded for:

  • Tornadoes
  • Hazardous Materials Spills
  • Scheduled Monthly Tests

When are the sirens tested?

Sirens will be tested on the first Wednesday of each month at 12 p.m. During a test, the sirens will sound for approximately one minute.


Who activates the sirens?

Sirens are activated by Hamilton County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency or the Hamilton County Communication Center.


Why are siren tests cancelled?

If Hamilton County is experiencing severe weather on the day of a test, the test will be postponed until the second Wednesday of the month. A “growl” test will be conducted on the alternate day. A “growl” test activates the system without a full audible alert of the system. A growl lasts approximately six seconds.


To reduce the potential impact of damage, the sirens may not be tested during the months of December through February, due to prolonged periods of extreme cold temperatures or ice and snow accumulation. However, if there is an emergency during winter months, the sirens will be activated to notify the public to seek shelter.


What should I do when I hear the sirens?

Immediately seek shelter indoors. If possible, go to the lowest level, and shelter within the most-interior room of the structure, avoiding all windows. Tune in to a NOAA All-Hazards Radio and/or local media for more detailed information about the situation. Remember: Take cover, tune in, take action!


How long will the sirens sound during a Tornado Warning?

During a tornado warning, the Outdoor Warning Sirens will sound for three minutes. (This is different than the monthly test that sounds for approximately one minute.) After three minutes of sound, there will be a seven minute span of quiet. This cycling of three minutes of sound with a seven-minute silent pause in between, will last until the Tornado Warning has expired or the tornado warning is canceled by the National Weather Service.


Do the Outdoor Warning Sirens sound an all-clear signal?

There will be no “all clear” signal from outdoor warning sirens. During severe weather, tune in to local media and trusted media sites for updates.


Can I hear the sirens indoors?

Sirens are not guaranteed to be heard indoors. Sirens are part of the Outdoor Warning Siren System, designed specifically to alert those outside to seek immediate shelter indoors.


Why do I hear the outdoor warning sirens during a thunderstorm or rain?

The Outdoor Warning Sirens in Hamilton County will only sound during a Tornado Warning or to indicate the need to seek immediate shelter indoors. The sound you may be hearing could be from electronic lightning detection alert systems on local golf courses. These systems sound a small siren for a short period of time (approximately 15 seconds) if lightning is detected nearby.


Where can I read the Outdoor Warning Siren System guidelines?

To view the Outdoor Warning Siren System Guidelines, please click HERE.


Why were the Outdoor Warning Siren guidelines developed?

By adopting common outdoor warning system guidelines, confusion can be minimized and response time reduced.


How can I get weather alerts when I am at work or at home?

Residents are encouraged to get a NOAA All-Hazards Radio in order to receive up to date weather information and alerts. Signing up for Alert Hamilton County is also a great way to get up to 43 different weather alerts specific to your home and/or work address. You can include as many addresses in your profile as you wish, so that you will be notified while at home, work, or school!


How can I stay safe during a storm?

Storms have the potential to produce dangerous lightening or high winds. When you get a weather alert or warning, take immediate shelter indoors, tune in to local media for updates and information, and take the appropriate action.


Who do I contact if a siren in my neighborhood is not working?

If your neighborhood siren is not functioning properly, you should contact the Hamilton County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, at 513-263-8200. Please provide the siren location and a description of the problem. Be prepared to offer your contact information, including a call back number, so that we can test the siren before and after repairs are made.

Outdoor Warning Siren System Informational Brochure