University to test emergency sirens Sept. 21

UNC will test its emergency sirens on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 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 tests equipment and 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 such as:
•    an armed and dangerous person on or near campus,
•    a major chemical spill or hazard, or
•    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.”

“The sirens are the best way the University has to inform people quickly about a life-threatening emergency,” said Chief Jeff McCracken, the University’s director of public safety. “It’s important for us to conduct regular tests so students, faculty, staff and community members know what the sirens sound like and what they are supposed to do in a real event.”

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 test text messages to about 46,000 cell phone numbers registered by students, faculty and staff in the online campus directory. Of those numbers, about 26,000 belong to students.

The University also communicates about an emergency through 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 May. The University will continue regular testing at least 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.


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