Rocket alarms may soon give 30 seconds' warning, up from 15

Ashkelon and Sderot residents may soon be able to take a slightly deeper breath before running for cover. According to Col. Hilik Sofer, a senior officer in the Home Front Command, the Color Red warning system may be improved to give 30 seconds' warning before rockets hit. The current iteration of the system, which was activated in Ashkelon for the first time late Friday night, provides approximately 15 seconds between the time the siren is initially sounded and the first impact. With the escalation of missile fire against Ashkelon, a city of more than 100,000 inhabitants, the Home Front Command has had to step up activities. Sofer said they had called up a small group of reservists to operate in the city, helping with crisis management and instructing residents on the proper way to take cover when the Color Red alarm is activated. When the warning - a calm but urgent woman's voice repeating "Color Red, Color Red" - sounds, people should try to enter a secure room, Sofer said. If no such room is within reach, Sofer said residents should avoid being on the top floor of any building, and should seek out a room with few or no windows, preferably on the north side of the building, facing away from Gaza. After a consultation with Home Front Command officers, Ashkelon municipal leaders decided that for the time being, schools in the city would continue to operate, and residents of agricultural areas closer to Gaza were warned to avoid spending unnecessary time outside.