There’s a modern lesson to be heeded from the old children’s story, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”

In that tale, a shepherd played a trick on the townspeople by declaring there was a wolf after his sheep. The people grabbed weapons and rushed to the rescue, only to find the boy had lied.

After a few times, the people stopped believing the youngster. So when a wolf really did come, nobody came to help the boy and he and the sheep were killed.

In relating this tale to our day, we send out a message to local emergency forces:

Stop blowing those darn warning sirens just because there is a thunderstorm!

We fully realize that local fire chiefs are concerned about the dangers posed by severe thunderstorms. And we laud them for their diligence. High winds, heavy rain, hail and lightning are certainly nothing to ignore.

However — and this is a big however — thunderstorms do not compare with tornadoes. So if you blow the sirens every time there is a thunderstorm, people will become desensitized to the warnings.

And not unlike the end result in the “Boy Who Cried Wolf,” the townspeople won’t take the warning seriously when a tornado does strike. That is a scary thought.

When the thunderstorms hit earlier in the week, the sirens were blowing. But they blew when there was a thunderstorm warning. So later when they blew for a tornado warning, people didn’t know what to think.

You didn’t need to tell people that it was raining hard or there was lightning flashing. They could pretty much tell that by looking out the window. The crashing thunder told people even better than a siren that there was a storm in the area.

While severe thunderstorms can sometimes start to generate swirling winds which can turn to tornadoes, the sirens shouldn’t blow until there is an actual tornado warning issued by meteorologists who track the storms. Obviously fire chiefs shouldn’t wait to blow the sirens until a mean lady on a bicycle goes spinning past our windows, but there needs to be some restraint.

We are blessed in this area because we have very few tornadoes that touch down. The last devastating tornado came in 1985.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be wary. If there are tornado warnings, people need to know so they can move to their basements, or go to a room with sturdy walls in the center of their home. Most people are aware that they shouldn’t be in cars on the roads and if caught outside, they should move to a low lying area.

However, they don’t want to be trekking downstairs or hiding in a bathtub just for a severe thunderstorm. And most people can’t tell the difference in the warning sirens for thunderstorms or tornadoes.

Most people we’ve heard discussing this issue are in agreement that the sirens should be reserved for tornado warnings only. Otherwise when the real thing comes, people won’t believe the “Boy Who Cried Tornado.”

That could have deadly results.

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