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UC Berkeley tests emergency warning system Feb. 5 with sirens, new emergency phone and emergency Web site
31 January 2003

Robert Sanders, Media Relations

Berkeley ó On Wednesday, Feb. 5, emergency sirens at the University of California, Berkeley, will wail at noon in the first test of the campusís new Alerting and Warning System, developed following 9/11 and from lessons learned in the campuswide power outage last spring.

The sirens are a central aspect of the new system, but not the only part. It also includes a new emergency 800 number and an emergency Web site that can operate independently of the campusís computer network. If local power and phone services are knocked out, a satellite phone is now in place to allow the campus to activate the emergency hotline and Web site remotely.

The campus will test its sirens and communication services at noon on the first Wednesday of each month, in concert with other Alameda Co. cities and organizations.

The Alerting and Warning System is designed to warn of an emergency or disaster and to let the campus community and visitors, as well as others, know what has occurred and what action to take, said Tom Klatt, director of UC Berkeley's Office of Emergency Preparedness.

One major goal of the emergency system is to provide parents of students, half of whom live in Southern California, and families of campus employees with information quickly and accurately. Because the emergency 800 number and the Web site are available worldwide to anyone with a telephone or an internet connection, family members and news media can be kept informed.

The Alerting and Warning System is a joint effort of the campus emergency preparedness office, the Office of Public Affairs, the Office of Information Systems & Technology and KALX, the campus radio station at 90.7 FM. The sirens and radio station can operate on emergency generators should campus power go out.

The campus would employ sirens and report information on its emergency communications services for such hazards as chemical spills, flooding, fires, storms or power outages, said Klatt. The emergency communications sites also would provide information at times when a situation would not require the full siren alerting system.

The campus preparations are part of a larger effort throughout Alameda County, where several cities are developing and installing siren-based emergency alerting and warning systems, Klatt said.

Klatt emphasized that a three-step response should become automatic when members of the campus community hear the siren:

  1. Shelter: Go inside your office or residence, a nearby building or your car to avoid exposure to a hazard.
  2. Shut: Shut all doors and windows. Building managers are advised to turn off ventilation systems when feasible.
  3. Listen: Connect with one of three campus communication services, each of which is designed to work whether power is on or not. Call (800) 705-9998 for recorded information, such as disaster details, evacuation routes, aid locations and other special instructions. Alternatively, log onto either the campus home page,, or the special emergency Web site, Or, tune in to the campus radio station, KALX (90.7 FM). Klatt advises having a battery-operated radio handy.

The new 800 emergency phone number and the address of the emergency Web site have been printed on the inside cover of the 2002-03 campus phone book. This is the first of several efforts underway to publicize emergency information options available to the campus, nearby residents, parents and news media.