What are the different warning sirens?

What are the different warning sirens?

From Sohail Ahmad

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Derived from musical instruments such as the drums and the organ and to coincide with the invention of electricity, the first sirens emerged in the late 1790s thanks to the help of a Scottish man. With the development and advancement of technology the first “modern” sirens, that is, a siren used to warn the public at large of incoming threats, finally started being adopted and by the late 1900s in the United States became used as an auditory warning system, for incoming natural disasters or attacks.

Specifically effective when needing to notify large amounts of people fast, sirens work by drawing air at a specific rate and modulating the vibrations thus resulting in a certain pitch being created, the amount of air drawn in and power will determine the volume and pitch the siren will have. Thanks to all of these factors, sirens are the perfect warning tool in case of imminent threat and can also at times be used to indicate a threat has passed (such is the case in times of war for example).

How do warning sirens work?

Used to indicate lifesaving action needs to be taken urgently, sirens are typically best put to use outdoors usually as part of the public alert system and, intended to warn crowds of individuals outside. When targeting individuals or specific groups of people located indoors, radios, televisions and phones will more often than not be prioritized as warning systems over sirens. Outdoor warning sirens are divided into two categories, separated by the method utilized to generate or produce the warning pitch noise. Pneumatic sirens also known as mechanical sirens rely on an electric motor to produce the high-pitched sound in contrast to electronic sirens which take advantage of their electric circuit to generate the sound of a siren or deliver a voice message. With both mechanical and electronic sirens being on the same footing their differentiation comes down to details with electronic sirens lasting only around 30 years, in comparison to the 50 or 60 of their mechanical counterparts who. despite their longevity they have as their name indicates a sizable amount of mechanically moving parts.

Moreover, the direction the sharp and high pitch is blasted in will determine the range and thus effectiveness of the warning sound output. Separated in three categories, directional, rotating and omni directional, all reach different ranges. Rotating siren project sound in only one direction relying on something else (typically some type of motor) makes the horn physically rotate. An omnidirectional siren on the other hand will project sound in every direction at the same time, using multiple horns to achieve this result. Each system, rotating or omni directional has its advantages and disadvantages for certain situations, sounds produced by rotating sirens will have the effect of rotating towards and away from listeners in contrast to omni directional sirens which will produce a constant sound which could be more beneficial in given situations.      

Despite lacking self-sufficiency (as they need to be activated by someone or a warning system to be effective), warning sirens remain our most efficient and effective way to warn crowds of people fast. Designed for all types of hazards and easily comprehensible, their use can be universal allowing action to be taken fast thus reducing or even preventing injuries, casualties or even deaths, allowing us to respond properly and in an organized manner as a community.

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