Warning Options for Residents Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

One key element of Dane County's general philosophy regarding emergency warning is that a systematic approach is essential. No single warning method can meet the needs of all residents in all situations. For this reason, the County uses a wide range of alerting methods, recognizing the advantages and limitations of each component. One limitation of the County siren system, for example, is that sirens are not a viable means of alerting people who cannot hear them. There are, however, a number of other methods available for deaf or hard of hearing residents to receive emergency information. Here is a summary of available options.

Severe Weather Warning

For the purposes of enhanced severe weather warning, the Department of Emergency Management is working with citizens and community groups to develop a list of residential and business TTY/TDD numbers throughout the County. Beginning in April 2004, calling sessions to this list will be activated to alert deaf and hard of hearing citizens when a Tornado Warning is issued for Dane County, much in the same way that the sirens are used to alert the hearing community.

Information provided will not be released to third parties and will only be used for the purpose of emergency notifications in Dane County.

NOAA Weather Radio [More information on NOAA Radio]

Weather radio receivers capable of providing text information from the NOAA National Weather Service radio broadcasts are now widely available. For information about vendors and prices, a good resource is a web site operated by National Severe Storms Laboratory in Oklahoma: www.nssl.noaa.gov/NWR/.

Most basic models have a radio receiver and a strobe light to alert a deaf or hard of hearing person of a weather emergency. Most also have a text display indicating the type of watch or warning that has been issued. Many of these radios are also capable of activating external devices such as pillow vibrators or bed shakers to alert a person who is sleeping. Some can also activate strobe lights or other attention-getting devices in other rooms of the house to help assure that the alert is noticed.

Contact Dane County Emergency Management if you need assistance in selecting or setting up a weather alert radio to meet your specific needs.

NOAA Weather Radio can be an excellent source of severe weather warning information. By special arrangement, NOAA Weather Radio in Dane County also broadcasts warnings for all types of hazards, both natural (such as severe weather) and man-made (such as an evacuation resulting from a toxic chemical release), making the weather radio a true, all-hazards warning device.

Please keep in mind that one drawback of many of radio models is that they generally describe only the type of warning, not the full text of the NWS warning.

Email and Paging Systems [More information on electronic notification]

Dane County operates a special Email list to disseminate disaster warnings and emergency information. During major incidents, emergency notifications are distributed to everyone who subscribes to this list. You may subscribe to this notification service at no charge.

Dane County's Email warning system monitors NOAA Weather Radio and automatically converts National Weather Service "Watches" and "Warnings" to an Email message. A text message is distributed to all subscribers on the list the instant the National Weather Service issues a severe weather "Watch" or "Warning". This service is available on your PC as well as through wireless Internet devices such as your alpha-numeric pager or personal digital assistant (PDA).

The subscription to Dane County's Internet alerting service has been automated.

Dane County's Internet alert messaging system is currently set up to automatically relay the following watches and warnings issued for Dane County by the National Weather Service:

  1. Tornado Watch
  2. Tornado Warning
  3. Severe Thunderstorm Warning
  4. Flash Flood Warning
  5. Blizzard Warning

Alert messages for local, non-weather related events, such as an evacuation resulting from a hazardous material spill will also be distributed over this system.

There are also commercial services available that can provide warning messages via Email or text pagers. A wide range of options, from Email messages to business fax messages is available. There may be a nominal fee for subscribing to a commercial service, but many are free.

The following is a list of a number of weather alerting services.

For More Information

Please contact Dane County Emergency Management if you have any questions about the County's warning system or would like additional information on available options.