It's not tornado season, but the town of Benton is now equipped with a system to alert residents of approaching severe weather.
The Town of Benton Outdoor Tornado Warning System was installed last week at 210 Red River Street and will serve as an early warning for citizens who are outdoors in the storms path.
The system includes a single Federal Signal Siren that is capable of producing a warning signal strong enough to be heard within the Benton city limits.
Mayor Wayne Cathcart said the project began with the late Mayor Albert Doughty, who received a $35,000 grant to fund the system. The device was positioned by Federal Signal just south of First Baptist Church Benton because of its proximity to the sports complex, where Cathcart said large crowds gather during sports events.
“Our hope is that this will be a life saving tool in our community,” Cathcart said.
When a tornado approaches, the Outdoor Tornado Warning System will be activated via radio frequency from the Bossier Parish Communications District Number One (911). Tracy Hilburn, director of Bossier 911, stressed that the device is not meant to notify residents inside their homes, but for those outdoors.
In a press release from the town of Benton, air conditioners, televisions, wind, rain and other conditions can be factors in the siren not being heard indoors. However, Hilburn said citizens should take shelter immediately when the siren sounds in the event of severe weather.
The Town of Benton Outdoor Tornado Warning System siren will be tested on the first Saturday of each month. A single one-minute siren will go off at 11 a.m. to test sound quality, volume level and mechanical rotation.
Officials plan to test the newly installed siren on Saturday, Oct. 6. Residents, visitors and those who work within town limits are encouraged to review their own emergency plans in preparation for severe weather.
The Town of Benton Outdoor Tornado Warning System siren will be tested on the first Saturday of each month, a single one-minute siren will go off at 11 a.m. to test sound quality, volume level and mechanical rotation.
In the event of an actual tornado warning, residents should be prepared to take the following immediate actions:
1. Immediately move to the lowest possible area in your home, like a basement or seek shelter in an interior hallway, bathroom, or other room free of windows and exterior doors.
2. Kneel down and cover your face.
3. Stay in position until the storm has passed and monitor local weather radio.