Sister Hazel Singer’s ATL Video: Are We Immune To Airport Warning Sirens?

by joeheg

If you’re even a moderate frequent flyer, you’ve undoubtedly heard a warning siren when sitting at your airport gate, waiting for a flight.

While a siren is supposed to get your attention, most passengers don’t move a muscle.

I was reminded of this when the lead singer of the band Sister Hazel (yes, they’re still making new music and touring) posted this on Facebook today about a Woop-Woop-Woop siren at ATL and the notice that “An emergency has been reported in the building. Please stand by for further instructions.”

To be honest, I think most of us have become desensitized to warning alarms. I can’t count the number of times when I’ve been sitting at the gate waiting for a plane and a random alarm went off because someone opened a door before typing in the appropriate code.

After you’ve heard an alarm beeping endlessly with seemingly none of the people around it doing anything to make it stop, as a layperson, you assume it’s no big deal and also ignore it.

But what if it was an emergency? Maybe someone with nefarious intents sneaked from the gate to the tarmac to hide something on a plane. Would anyone notice? Honestly, I’m not sure.

And as a final note, if no one pays attention to the warning sirens at the airport, why do they exist? Are they like the blinking lights at the hospital or nursing home where no one notices them unless they’ve stopped blinking?

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


HockeyCoachBen April 6, 2022 - 7:49 pm

Many years ago (not too long post-9/11), an alarmed door was opened at IAD near the gates of a few international airlines and it went off continuously for over an hour. Airline staff, TSA, even airport police walked by the door either like nothing was happening or with just a cursory glance down the hallway behind the open door. Zero investigation whatsoever. A couple CBP officers even walked through the open door and left it open and the alarm buzzing away. Finally, a janitor, of all people, had enough of the noise and closed the door/disabled the alarm. Like it was no big deal at all.

K.C. Cooper July 16, 2023 - 1:19 pm

That’s just a fire alarm.
To prevent burnt food from causing immense disruption, many airports have approval for alternate plans that avoid evacuations if it’s a false alarm. This is not the case in all airports – in some, any fire alarm means immediate evacuation.
When the fire alarm sounds, listen for the instruction. (It may take up to a minute for the message to play or announcement to be made.)
If it says to stand by… then be alert for signs of fire and be prepared to evacuate. (e.g. if it’s a cold day, get your coat ready in case this turns out to be real.)
If it says to leave the building, then leave, using the nearest regular or emergency exit. (Don’t just go back the way you came in unless it’s the nearest exit.)
If a fire alarm sounds with no message or announcement, assume it’s an instruction to leave the building.

Door alarms, on the other hand, require no action from passengers. (If you’re not sure if it’s a door alarm or a fire alarm, door alarms are local at the door while a fire alarm would sound throughout the terminal/area.)


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