Cold War-Era Sirens Used As Terror Alerts

Cold War-era sirens may be revived as terrorism warnings. Cities including Oklahoma City, Chicago and Dallas have upgraded their outdoor warning systems with a type of siren that can carry voice announcements — an idea that officials say took on added importance in the post-Sept. 11 world.

Sirens have long been used for storm disasters, but now the Federal Emergency Management Agency is studying whether they can warn people of biological, chemical or nuclear attack. “You have all kinds of new systems,” said Timothy Putprush, a telecommunications specialist with FEMA. “You originate a message. You need to get it out to the population.” Thousands of sirens were built across the country during the Cold War to warn citizens in case of nuclear attack, but the federal government stopped the program and the sirens fell silent in many of the nation’s largest cities. Other cities put them to use to warn of tornadoes. Full Story

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