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Winter Haven: Lightning Alert System

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Dear Winter Haven Residents,
The City of Winter Haven Parks, Recreation & Culture Department, in collaboration with the Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), is proud to announce the introduction of a new Lightning Alert System in our community. This vital safety feature will enhance the protection of our citizens during outdoor activities.

Thunderstorms and lightning can develop rapidly with little warning, posing serious risks to those outdoors. The Lightning Alert system will significantly reduce weather safety risks at vulnerable locations such as outdoor courts, playgrounds, pools, sporting fields, and area parks.

Testing Phase Information

The first phase of the rollout involves testing, which will begin on Thursday, June 6, between noon and 1:00 p.m. Multiple tests may occur during this window. Testing will continue every Thursday throughout June. The system will go live after the first successful test and will be closely monitored to ensure the accuracy of the safety sirens. Please note, the sirens will not alert between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.

System Overview

The new Lightning Alert System is being installed at two key downtown locations, chosen for their high outdoor activity levels:

  • Florida Citrus Building (home to Nora Mayo Hall) – This siren will alert users of Chain of Lakes Trailhead Park, K9 Corner Dog Park, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, Johnnie Patterson Park, the Tennis Complex, and the Shuffle Board Courts, as well as portions of the Chain of Lakes Trail.
  • AdventHealth Fieldhouse and Conference Center – This siren will alert users in the Rowdy Gaines Pool and surrounding areas. Upon completion of the four new baseball fields and the activated lakefront park, the siren will also alert users of those spaces.

Importance of the Lightning Alert System

The City of Winter Haven has chosen the DTN On Guard Siren Alerting Solution, the same system used by Polk County Public Schools, LEGOLAND Florida, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This system is specifically designed to provide timely, accurate, and easy-to-use alerts for approaching hazards. Here’s why we are implementing this system:

  • Enhanced Safety: Early awareness of lightning and severe weather conditions provides valuable time to enact pre-planned safety protocols and move people to secure locations quickly and calmly.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: The system includes multi-directional sirens and a dual-color omni-directional beacon, ensuring clear communication of weather dangers and all-clear notifications.
  • Reliability: The sirens and beacon tie into the WeatherSentry® system, triggering the siren system based on preset criteria. This integration supports consistent and reliable alerts.
  • Customizable Alerts: The system allows for custom location setup and preset siren alerting criteria, including advisory, caution, and warning ranges, as well as all-clear notifications.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Ensures adherence to regulatory, safety, and athletic sanctioning body rules and guidelines.
  • Decision-Making Confidence: Provides validation for event or activity suspension and delay decisions, increasing credibility with stakeholders and ensuring the safety of attendees, talent, athletes, vendors, and employees.

Funding and Future Plans

The Downtown CRA funded the initial two installation sites. The Florence Villa CRA recently approved funding to add the system to Rueben Williams Sports Complex (formerly Lake Maude Sports Complex). Rollout on that site is pending arrival and installation of the equipment. Plans are also underway to include the alert system in the renovation of the Winter Haven Recreational & Cultural Center. Upon successful testing and evaluation of the initial sites, additional efforts will be made to expand the network of sirens to other high-traffic outdoor areas.

We encourage all residents to stay informed and be aware of the testing schedule. Your safety is our top priority.

For more information about the new Lightning Alert System and its testing phase, please visit https://www.mywinterhaven.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=75

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