High-tech tool keeping kids safe from storms could come to your school

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By Jill Glavan

LEBANON, Ind. (September 10, 2014) -- As the storms rolled into central Indiana on Wednesday, one school district was extra prepared to keep its kids safe.

Lebanon High School's football team hit the practice field for the afternoon, but they quickly heard a new siren that sent them right back inside.

"That horn tells everybody, 'Hey, we’ve got to evacuate the outdoors and find a safe area inside,'" Assistant Principal Michael Reynolds said.

Lebanon Community Schools installed the system, called Thor Guard, and is working with FOX59's storm-chasing partner BAM Chase this school year. It's the first in Indiana and takes away the old "30 minute" rule for lightning at school and sporting events.

"Not only does it detect lightning, but it predicts it. ... It’s got a 97 percent accuracy rate so this thing doesn’t get it wrong," Michael Clark with BAM Chase said.

The system monitors the atmosphere above the schools, sending "warning" alerts to administrators' cell phones when severe weather is forming and "red alert" codes, along with sirens sounding at the schools, when the possibility of lightning is 12 miles away.

"We all know, we hear a horn, we evacuate immediately," Reynolds said.

Two sirens on the administration building and middle school cover all of the outdoor fields and they sounded multiple times during rounds of severe weather Wednesday.

Reynolds said it takes away the guesswork in getting kids off the field and already, it's proved effective as past practices would have kept games going far beyond when the system alerted administrators to danger.

"(Used to be) looking at (a) cell phone, looking at the sky, and just trying to make an untrained judgment," Reynolds said.

Already, the district and BAM Chase are getting calls from other districts and even cities hoping to use the technology. Both said it is likely the future of school districts' weather plans and they hope to rope in organizations like IHSAA to help pay for the systems.

"It just allows us to have a better way to communicate with everybody at once," Reynolds said.

For more information on the technology, you can contact BAM Chase through their website here.

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