Virginia Tech is installing a system of warning sirens to alert the campus community to emergency events. The first test of the siren system is scheduled to occur on Wednesday, April 19, at 12:10 p.m.

The Virginia Tech Police Department will activate Virginia Tech's Early Warning Siren System if events occur that potentially endanger people who are outdoors. The system could be used to alert the campus community of the danger of tornados, large chemical spills, terrorist activities, or any other emergency situation that calls for immediate action, said Zachary Adams, co-director of Environmental, Health and Safety (EHSS) at Virginia Tech.

The system will sound like an ultra-loud, long-lasting, deeper-sounding police or rescue-squad siren.

The system of four sirens will be audible throughout the campus and in areas immediately adjacent to campus, Adams said. It will sound full power for three minutes and will be repeated as necessary.

The siren system will be activated if a warning has been issued that affects the local area and where people need to seek immediate shelter indoors to remove themselves from the hazardous condition. A warning means that an emergency situation has been verified on or in the vicinity of campus.

When the siren sounds, individuals should immediately go inside and consult a source of information such as a radio, television news, inclement weather hotline (1-6668) or the Virginia Tech website homepage for further information.

For weather emergencies, such as a tornado warning, people should: -- Seek shelter in an area that does not have exterior windows, such as an interior hallway on the lowest floor of the building.

-- If outdoors and not able to quickly get to a building (and if the conditions appear right for a tornado), lie down flat in a ditch or other low area.

-- If in a car, get out and seek a building or low area. Stay away from rickety buildings, glass, debris, or anything that could become an airborne missile.

In case of a chemical disaster, persons in potentially affected areas may be instructed to go upstairs instead of to lower levels because chemicals can gather in lower areas.

When the emergency is over, the sirens will sound Westminster Chimes and announce “all clear."

Campus sirens will be tested twice a year--once during fall semester and again during tornado-awareness week in the early spring. The campus and adjacent community will receive notification through the local media and on Virginia Tech websites before the tests.

“The main thing to remember,” Adams said, “is when you hear the sirens, get inside, get information, and stay out of danger.”