Autonomous Early Warning and Notification Systems
Each country in the world handles emergencies caused by harmful emissions differently, which reflects in its national legislation.
Early warning and notification in Slovakia
Now, let us have a look how it works in the Slovak Republic.
A leak of a hazardous substance has occurred several times in the last decades and caused serious injuries or even heavy casualties on the local population. A new act was passed in 2006 as the reaction to these accidents. It stipulates that all potentially dangerous manufacturers and operators must build an early warning and notification system that is connectable to the superior national warning system, which is managed by the civil defence forces at the Crisis Management Department of the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic.
Potentially dangerous manufacturers and operators
Firstly and most importantly, the manufacturers and operators causing potential danger include winter stadiums using ammonia (NH3) in their business operations. According to IIHF, there are 60 roofed winter stadiums and 17 ice rinks under the open sky in the Slovak Republic. They are frequently located in highly developed areas, and a potential leak of ammonia (NH3) poses a serious health risk to masses of people. Food factories using ammonia (NH3) to cool, store and freeze their products are other potentially dangerous producers. These most frequently include milk and meat plants and breweries.
The second category of manufacturers and operators contains paper plants using chlorine (CL2) for their manufacturing. Similarly, chlorine (CL2) is used in swimming pools and aquatic parks for water disinfection.
Thirdly, there is a special category of companies that extract gas and oil, and store all kinds of explosives and, of course, a lot more.
Two essential parts of an early warning notification system
For an early warning and notification system to work well, it has to contain two parts. One, which is called a monitoring system, detects leakage of harmful substances. The other one, which is called an early warning and notification system itself and is connected to the monitoring system, gives warning in case of emergency and notifies the responsible persons. The direct interconnection of both systems is essential and inevitable, regarding early warning and notification of people living in an endangered area. As is arising from the title of the article, an autonomous system is fully independent. In the case of power failure, the system is backed up for 72 hours. If the operators panic or do not respond early enough, the system is automatically activated. Occasionally, the system may detect a leak of a hazardous substance unintentionally despite the fact there is no actual leakage, which is considered to be a false alarm. If the situation like this occurs, the system activates a five-minute countdown period on the control panel to stop the sirens from activating and frightening the people living nearby. This is the period during which the operators can assess and analyse the situation, and take appropriate measures. What is more, if it is proved to be a false alarm, the operators can deactivate the warning and notification system. If there is a real leak or the operators fail to respond immediately, the sirens are activated automatically.
The warning system has been extended to include a notification system, which means that the sirens within the system are equipped with a GSM module. That module can notify and mobilise the emergency and rescue services through the GSM network in case of any dangerous leakage.
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