Citing a conviction that a city canít have too much warning with a natural disaster ó or any other calamity ó is imminent, Brownwood City Council members acted Tuesday to reactivate the sirens that were silenced last year after a telephone-based system was installed.

Given the experience Brownwood had last week when a tornado warning was declared, and the devastation seen in communities this spring like Eagle Pass, Texas, and Greensburg, Kan., the decision is a prudent one. In todayís mobile society, civil defense leaders canít have too many ways to let residents know danger is on its way.

The CodeRED system is based on a valid concept, but after several occasions have developed in which it was used, several potential gaps have been identified. Residents must remember to update the cityís data base with new telephone numbers. Notifications are certainly more specific, but not necessarily as prompt to every resident as sirens can be.

A system in which CodeRED and sirens are used together would give the city an additional measure of warning. Getting that warning is extremely critical. But itís only the first step needed to protect the lives of residents in the path of a storm, flood or other disaster. Every household must have an escape plan ó a place of safety to which to retreat ó when members receive that warning. They must also know what to do, and what not to do, when the alarms sound while they are on the streets or highways. Many residents of Greensburg said they heard the warnings, but had nowhere to go.

The time to prepare for the worst is before it happens. That holds just as much for individual residents as it does for city officials.

Brownwood Bulletin