Siren System Installed on Campus

Outdoor warning system to be tested March 7

Siren System FAQ

The University of Texas at Austin installed an outdoor warning system on its main campus in February 2007. The system consists of strategically placed sirens that warn the university community to take shelter in the event of an emergency, such as a severe weather event.

Map of campus area showing range of siren systemAccording to David Cronk, director of Emergency Preparedness for the university, “The installation of an outdoor warning system is all about readiness, and it is one more step the university is taking toward ensuring that students, faculty, staff, and visitors can pursue higher education and enjoy special events in the safest possible environment.”

Whenever an emergency poses a direct threat to the university community, the system will warn the campus with siren sounds indicating that everyone should take shelter, and these warnings will continue sounding until the coast is clear.

It is important to remember that the sirens will only sound in this way when the campus is at immediate risk. This means the sirens will not sound every time there is a tornado warning in Travis County, but they will sound when there is a tornado warning that directly impacts The University of Texas at Austin area and makes it unsafe to be outdoors.

“When you hear the warnings,” Cronk explains, “you should seek shelter immediately in the nearest building. Move into interior corridors away from exterior windows, close all doors to rooms with exterior windows, and move to the lowest level of the building.”

In other words, whenever the outdoor warning system sounds, it is no longer safe to be outside and everyone on campus needs to seek shelter.

The only time it is safe to be outside when the sirens sound is during a monthly system test. System tests will last one minute, and are scheduled to take place at around 11:50 a.m. on the first Wednesday of every month. No action is expected during the monthly test. To avoid confusion, monthly tests will be cancelled whenever there is a chance of severe weather on the scheduled test day.

The first monthly test is scheduled for March 7 at about 11:50 a.m., and the Campus Safety and Security office anticipates running several 30-second tests prior to March 7 in order to ensure proper system installation.

Thanks to four different siren locations, the warning system will be audible throughout the main campus on both the west and east sides of I-35. Siren speakers will be located on top of the Beauford H. Jester Center, Jesse H. Jones Hall, Jesse H. Jones Communications Center B and Printing and Press Building.

“The sirens are very directional, so you may not even be able to hear them inside,” says Cronk, “but this is OK because the point is to make sure people outdoors know they need to seek shelter.”

Cronk notes that, although the sirens will be loudest within the outer limits of campus, neighboring businesses and residents may be able to hear the warning system. For this reason, the university has reached out to neighborhood associations and local authorities through numerous face-to-face meetings and letters to ensure people are aware of the new warning system and the scheduled tests.

“There has been an overwhelmingly positive response to the idea,” concludes Cronk. “The new outdoor warning system will bring a heightened sense of security to the campus, and I hope our communication efforts provide even more security by letting people know there are procedures in place in case of the event of an emergency.”