FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 15, 2011) -- On the first Wednesday of every month, a loud, sustained warning siren can be heard across the installation, according to Fort Rucker Installation Operations Center officials.

It's a good thing, too, since this area is approaching the peak of its tornado season, said Willie Worsham, IOC chief.

"When the cold, polar air and the warm moist air we've got now come into contact with each other, it can produce a violent reaction," he said. "It happens this way each year as we change from one season to another."

Another weather issue people should consider is that it's still hurricane season, according to Maj. Jay Massey, installation emergency management operations officer. While the weather might have cooled a little in the recent weeks, hurricanes are still popping up in the Atlantic Ocean.

"Folks need to be reminded that hurricane season extends until November," he said. "People will know if there's an approaching hurricane by watching their local news. They need to build a kit, have a plan and be prepared."

When the sirens go off on the first Wednesday of each month at 11 a.m., there's usually nothing to be worried about, Massey added. But all on the installation should still listen for the instructions that follow each siren.

"They'll hear a long, sustained sound followed by a verbal instruction on what action should be taken," he said. "If it's just a test, the instructions will tell them that."

The sirens on the installation are also used to alert people to other potential dangers like an intruder or chemical release.

"Those two warnings are the same tone, but the verbiage is a bit different," Worsham said. "We would use the intruder alert for something like an active shooter incident. People should never be complacent when they hear the sirens."

Worsham added that the surrounding counties of Coffee and Dale counties have begun testing their sirens around the same time as Fort Rucker to help the communities be closer and have a common readiness plan.

Worsham said the once-a-month test is standard across the U.S. and keeps those on installations aware of what the sirens sound like without using it so much that they get used to hearing them.

"We're trying to lump the outside communities into our testing to help those out on other fields, like Shell Field, hear the warning sirens at the same time ours is going off," Worsham said. "The people in Coffee and Dale county do hear our sirens, so we thought it would be a good idea to have us all on the same page."

Worsham also said that the new CodeRED system is another way for those on Fort Rucker to know what's happening when things like severe weather or other potential hazards strike.

"It's a free service and it's very useful," he said.

For more information, call the IOC at 255-9777.