Using a Random Digit Dial Sample and a Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) system, data were collected focusing on public perception and protective action decision-making in counties that were affected by a severe storm or tornado warning. Over a thousand interviews were conducted following 17 weather events across several different states. The following study utilizes this data to provide a sociological analysis of false alarms. This research provides insights into: 1) what the public thinks the concept false alarm means; 2) what factors drive perception of false alarms; and 3) how do false alarm rates influence trust and protective action decisions during tornadoes. These insights provide not only strong scientific advances to our knowledge of false alarms, but also the basis for valuable suggestions to meteorologists and emergency managers about how those insights matter for warning systems.