University to test Emergency Sirens Sept. 22

UNC will test its emergency sirens on Tuesday, Sept. 22, between noon and 1 p.m. as part of Alert Carolina, a safety awareness campaign.

Anyone outside on or near campus, including downtown Chapel Hill, is likely to hear the sirens during the test, which reminds students, faculty and staff what to do in an emergency. No action is needed. The sirens will sound an alert tone along with a brief pre-recorded public address message. When testing is complete, a different siren tone and voice message will signal “All clear. Resume normal activities.” Samples of the alert and “all clear” tones are available at

The sirens will only sound for a life-threatening emergency:

  • an armed and dangerous person on or near campus
  • a major chemical spill or hazard
  • a tornado sighting

If the sirens sound, go inside or take cover immediately. Close windows and doors. Stay until further notice.  The sirens also broadcast short pre-recorded voice messages. When the threat is over, the sirens sound again with a different tone to announce along with the voice message:  “All clear. Resume normal activities.”

“We want the campus community to be very familiar with the sound of the sirens and know what to do when they hear them,” said Jeff McCracken, the University’s public safety director. “The sirens are the fastest and most effective way we have to immediately inform everyone about a life-threatening situation.”

The sirens are located at Hinton James Residence Hall off Manning Drive; the Gary R. Tomkins Chilled Water Operations Center behind the Dogwood Parking Deck; Winston Residence Hall at the corner of Raleigh Street and South Road; near Hill Hall behind University Methodist Church; and next to University buildings and support facilities near the Giles Horney Building off Martin Luther King Boulevard.

During next week’s test, the University also will send a test text message to about 33,000 cell phone numbers registered by students, faculty and staff in the online campus directory. Some 23,000 of those numbers are registered to students.

The University also communicates about an emergency using means including campus-wide e-mail and voice mail (only for campus land lines), the Adverse Weather and Emergency Phone Line, 843-1234, for recorded information, and the University Access Channel (Chapel Hill Time Warner Cable Channel 4) along with other campus cable television channels.

The sirens were last tested in February. The University will continue regular testing once each semester as part of Alert Carolina, launched in March 2008. The campaign educates the campus community about what to do in an emergency and where to go for safety-related information and resources.

Alert Carolina Web site: