State investing in high-tech warning sirens

Rip Shivone
Rip Shivone
Peter Grosvenor
Peter Grosvenor
George Burnett
George Burnett

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

WAIKIKI (KHNL) - Hawaii's safety net of alert sirens is going high tech.

But even though new sirens will be built, will everyone listen?

New warning sirens will go in, complete with solar panels to keep them running even during a power outage. But that doesn't mean people always pay attention to the alerts.

For many on vacation, they are expecting tranquil sights and sounds of Hawaii.

So it comes as a surprise to some, when monthly siren alerts interrupt their trip.

"I heard a siren but I have no idea what it was," said Rip Shivone, of New Jersey.

"We assumed it was a shark alarm, cause thats what we have back home, so everyone gets out of the water," said Peter Grosvenor, from Australia.

While many visitors may hear the monthly siren test, not all know what to do during an emergency.

Plenty have packed sunscreen but few plans for disaster.

"It always crosses your mind. But when you are on vacation, your relaxed and not thinking too much about it," said Grosvenor.

But even though visitors may not think about it, Hawaii's Civil Defense wants to make sure they can hear the warnings.

Over $8 million has been released by Governor Linda Lingle for upgrades to nearly a hundred sirens across the state.

"On a weekly basis we are finding sirens that are failing, and they are not economically repairable. We have to install replacement sirens," said George Burnett, with the State Civil Defense.

While the money would replace a fourth of the state's sirens, another $10 million is needed to add additional warning signals in inundation zones.

It sounds like a lot of money.

But its to make sure the sound of safety is heard in the future.

The new sirens should last about 25 years and State Civil Defense workers hope to one day have a more complete network of over 500 sirens warning us of disaster.