Emergency Warning Systems, Alerts, Apps, and Preparedness Information

When disaster strikes, you may have only a short time to make what might be a life or death decision.
Even though it is rare, catastrophic events such as tornadoes or major chemical releases do occur. We cannot predict exactly where or when they will occur, but we can take precautions to minimize the danger.
One of the most important things you can do is to be aware that a danger is present. Most of the injuries and deaths happen to people who are unaware, uninformed or who chose to ignore the issued warnings. For this reason, it is crucial that you understand the warning system, take appropriate shelter and be prepared. There is a lot of information available to inform and assist in the event of an emergency. For your convenience, this page has been broken down into the following sections:

Severe Weather Watches and Warnings

Typically, the National Weather Service is responsible for issuing all severe weather alerts. The National Weather Service, when issuing severe weather alerts, uses the terms “Watch” and “Warning.” Knowing the difference between a “Watch” and a “Warning” is very important.
When conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop, the National Weather Service will issue a “Watch.” When severe weather watches are issued, you should be alert for changes in the weather and be prepared to act quickly.
National Weather Service meteorologists use information from weather radar as well as a network of trained spotters to issue severe weather warnings. A “Warning” means that severe weather is actually occurring or is imminent. For example, a Tornado Warning means that the National Weather Service’s Doppler radar is detecting wind circulation that could produce a tornado. Tornado Warnings are also issued if trained spotters have actually sighted a tornado or specific indicators of a tornado. You should take immediate steps to protect yourself when a “Warning” of any type is issued.

When severe weather approaches, Kane County Emergency Management staff are in constant communication with storm spotters in the field and forecasters at the National Weather Service. When issued, severe weather “Watches” and “Warnings” are broadcast over the NOAA Weather Radio station serving Kane County and passed to local radio and television stations.

Warning System Choices . . . You Decide

Some of these alerting methods, such as outdoor sirens, are owned by Sugar Grove and operated locally. Others, such as NOAA Weather Radio or local broadcast media are not controlled by the County or Sugar Grove, but cooperate in broadcasting warning information. Only you can decide which of these methods of receiving warning information works best for you and your family. Here is a summary of the available options.

Outdoor Sirens

Sugar Grove has an Outdoor Early Warning Siren System consisting of seven sirens located throughout the Village. If you hear a siren, you should immediately seek additional information through local radio and television stations. Sirens are designed to alert individuals who are outdoors.
This system is designed to inform persons who are outside of imminent severe weather.. Never rely solely on outdoor warning sirens as they are subject to equipment malfunction as well as failure due to damage from lightning strikes. Sirens are not intended to alert people who are in cars, homes, or other buildings. Hearing sirens indoors may have been possible in the past, however, this should no longer be expected. Energy conservation practices and better insulation have effectively reduced the sound penetration into these areas. In addition many homes and businesses are air-conditioned. Very few buildings have open windows in the summer when it is hot and humid – the very time when severe weather is most likely to occur.
Atmospheric conditions also affect siren range. Wind speed and direction, air stability, and relative humidity all affect the distance that the sound will travel. Your ability to hear the siren will change as these conditions change. It is very possible that from your location, in some cases you will be able to hear the siren, while in other cases, you won’t.
There are a number of factors that affect the range of the siren. First of these is sound output. Very simply, some sirens are designed to be louder than others. A louder siren will have a greater range. Atmospheric conditions also affect siren range. Wind speed and direction, air stability, and relative humidity all affect the distance that the sound will travel. Your ability to hear the siren will change as these conditions change. It is very possible that from your location, in some cases you will be able to hear the siren, while in other cases, you won’t.
Sirens can also be very susceptible to disruptions in the electrical power supply. A majority of the sirens operate on power supplied by local utilities. Power failures, which are common during thunderstorms, can disable a siren. In addition, lightning striking a nearby power line can blow fuses in the siren itself. This will also disable the unit until the fuses can be replaced.
Even with these limitations, sirens can be a very effective source of warning, if you are outdoors and within range of the siren.
The sirens are sounded in situations of severe weather directly threatening Sugar Grove and in most situations one of the following criteria must be met:

  • Rotation in a dangerous cloud formation or a tornado
  • Straight-line winds approaching 70 mph or greater
  • Significantly large and damaging hail storm

The decision to sound the sirens is made emergency management personnel with the primary goal of protecting all citizens and to provide advance warning of a dangerous situation. This decision is made from information from several resources including:

  • NOAA National Weather Service
  • The Kane County Department of Emergency Management through their network of trained storm spotters positioned throughout the county providing real-time updates.
  • Key personnel monitoring the weather from positions throughout the Village.

NOAA Weather Radios

By monitoring NOAA Weather Radio, you can receive weather alert messages the instant they are issued. NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. NWR broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Working with the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Alert System , NWR is an “All Hazards” radio network, making it your single source for comprehensive weather and emergency information. In conjunction with Federal, State, and Local Emergency Managers and other public officials, NWR also broadcasts warning and post-event information for all types of hazards – including natural (such as earthquakes or avalanches), environmental (such as chemical releases or oil spills), and public safety (such as AMBER alerts or 911 Telephone outages).
NOAA Radios can be purchased at most department and electronic stores. NOAA radios can be coded to for Specific Area Messaging Encoding (SAME). Coding a radio minimizes the number of events as it will only broadcast the information for the SAME that you have entered. Look for a weather radios that is “Public Alert Certified” as this denotes that they meet the performance and feature standards established by NOAA. NOAA does not officially recommend any specific radio brand; it does however suggest that consumers select a radio carry the Public Alert Logo. Look for a radio that has an audible alarms, defeatable alarms (on in which you can turn off certain warnings, such as a flood warning if that is not important to you), one that runs on electric with a battery backup and one that has an external antenna jack. There are NOAA weather radios equipped for those with special needs. These radios provide visual and vibrating alert.

Emergency Alert System

The Emergency Alert System (EAS), adopted in 1997 is the successor to the old Emergency Broadcast System (EBS). The Emergency Alert System is composed of AM, FM, and television broadcast stations as well as cable television, operating in cooperation with local authorities to provide uniform and consistent information in an emergency. Participation in the local Emergency Alert System is voluntary however most location stations broadcast local emergency alerts when requested:
Other local broadcasters can pick up the message from any of these sources and rebroadcast it at their discretion. You can recognize an EAS message from the distinctive tone that begins each broadcast. The announcer will also identify the broadcast as an activation of the Emergency Alert System. In an emergency, you should stay tuned to participating stations to receive emergency warnings and situation updates.

Broadcast Television and Radio

In addition to participating in the Emergency Alert System, broadcast television and radio stations are a vital component of our warning system. Local television and radio stations routinely broadcast official “Watches” and “Warnings” issued by the National Weather Service as well as forecasts and storm tracks developed by on-air meteorologists. Television, in particular, is an excellent source of emergency information since graphics such as radar displays and maps can be used to describe the event in detail.

Broadcast television and radio, while being an excellent source of information, have one major disadvantage as a means of receiving warning. Your radio or television has to be on and you have to be able to hear it or see it. If the TV or radio is not on or you are in another room, you will probably miss the warning. A normal TV or radio will not wake you up in the middle of the night to inform you that a tornado warning has been issued. For this reason, you should not rely on broadcast television or radio as your sole source of emergency warning.

Internet and Smart Phone Apps

The Internet and smart phones offers a nearly inexhaustible source of information concerning storm warnings and severe weather forecasting. Please be aware that these sources of warning are not as dependable as the other systems referenced in this document. Information received from these sources are subject to delays and may not arrive soon enough to provide an adequate warning. In addition, your ability to receive information through the Internet or via a Smart Phone App requires the operation of numerous systems, some of which are difficult to control. The Internet and Smart Phone Apps should be considered as an additional source of information and should not be considered as the primary source of emergency warning for life-threatening events.

Warning System Recommendations

Warning systems are only effective if you understand the benefits and limitations of the alerting methods available. There are a great deal of warning devices and methods available to you. We recommend that you take advantage of as many of them as possible. No one warning method is perfect and no one warning method can be guaranteed never to fail. By relying on one single method, such as the sounding of the sirens or the receiving information solely from broadcast meteorologists, you risk missing a warning if that system fails. By taking a systematic approach and getting information from more than one source, you are much more likely to receive the warning, even if there is a failure in one of the components.

We strongly recommend that you consider the following:

  • Purchase a weather alert radio if you don’t already have one.
  • Subscribe to a wireless email alerting system to receive alerts on your cell phone.
  • Rely on the sirens only for outdoor warning.
  • Turn to broadcast radio or television for details and follow-up information
  • Take a minute a visit the following sites to help you be prepared:


CodeRED® does not issue weather warning however is an important tool for emergency notifications. Kane County has implemented this emergency telephone notification system called CodeRED® that notifies you in the event of an emergency. The system allows local officials to telephone targeted areas of a municipality or the entire County in case an emergency requires immediate action. CodeRED is capable of dialing 50,000 phone numbers per hour and delivers a recorded message to a live person or an answering machine, making three attempts to connect to any number.

If you currently have a listed phone number, you are already in the system. If you have an unlisted number, use a cell phone, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system or if you have an automated attendant that answers your phone you must request to be added to the system. You may also add other contact phones, as many as you desire, to the system. To sign up or for additional information http://www.kcoem.org/pages/codered.aspx. If you do not have internet access you may call 630-232-5985. There is also a CodeRED® mobile alert app available.
Kane County uses CodeRED® for emergency or disaster notifications. The system is not used for severe weather notifications uses include:

  • Hazardous materials release. An airborne hazardous materials release or potential for a release where there is a need for residents to evacuate or shelter-in-place.
  • Community policing. Local police departments and the Kane County Sheriff’s Department may use the system for a variety of community policing situations, such as missing children alerts or prisoner escape.
  • Public health alerts. Kane County public health department may use the system to disseminate public health information such as boil water alerts or outbreak of infectious disease.

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

Sugar Grove