Media alert: Learn the meaning of emergency sirens

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.


Contact: Dan Bovitz, Communications, 612-250-2614 

With severe weather on the way, learn the meaning of emergency sirens

With severe weather expected to come through the Twin Cities Metro area tonight, Hennepin County Emergency Management is sharing a reminder of what emergency sirens are, and what they mean.

Sirens activate for severe weather warnings, as well as for other situations when people should take shelter. Weather-related sirens trigger when the National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning, and/or if there are reports of sustained straight-line winds greater than 70 mph.

Residents and visitors who are outdoors will be able to hear nearby sirens and take potentially life-saving actions. 

Understand the sirens

A steady wail will sound for one minute. This tone is used for local emergencies, such as tornado warnings or chemical releases. 

Officials test sirens  silently several times each week to ensure that they will work in an emergency. Siren maintenance staff use monthly audible drills at 1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month to verify that individual sirens are working properly.  

Know how to respond

Sirens warn people who are outdoors. When you hear a siren, take immediate action to get inside shelter, and get more information about the emergency from a portable, cordless device. Do not call 911 or other emergency numbers to ask why the sirens are going off. This blocks people with real emergencies from getting the help they need.

– 30 –

Look for more news on the Hennepin County website at