Today’s Inadvertent Emergency Siren Was Only a Test

An otherwise routine “silent” testing of the Berrien County Emergency Siren System this morning was anything but silent for those who heard it.

Berrien County Emergency Management officials alerted the Cook Nuclear Plant this morning, Wednesday, May 27th, that the County’s Emergency Siren System was inadvertently sounded for approximately 10-15 seconds during what was intended to be a routine “silent” testing of the system.

The Emergency Siren System, which is maintained by Cook Nuclear Plant and operated by the Berrien County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, is tested aloud on the first Saturday of every month with the alarm sounding for about one minute.  However, Berrien County also routinely checks the system by way of a silent electrical pulse on a weekly basis.  However, during the weekly test this morning, County operators inadvertently activated the audible alarm, causing the sirens to sound for approximately 10-15 seconds before they could be deactivated.

Captain Rockey Adams, commanding officer of the Berrien County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, says, “We conduct many silent tests of the siren system so we are ready for an emergency; today’s test resulted in a very short sounding of the sirens.” Adams notes, “Maintaining this system is a partnership between our team and the public. While the inadvertent sounding was unfortunate, I am encouraged that people were paying attention to the system and appreciate that they called to let us know they heard the short sounding so we could evaluate the issue.”

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While regular monthly audible tests last about one minute, the sirens would sound for three to five minutes or longer in the event of a real emergency. Siren and other basic emergency information can be found in the emergency information calendars that are produced by the Cook Nuclear Plant and mailed annually to residents and businesses in Berrien County.  A PDF of that calendar along with FAQs can be found at this link: http://www.cookinfo.com/EmergencyPlan.aspx

Additionally, when the sirens are sounded for an emergency, the Emergency Alert System (EAS) would also be activated. The EAS message will be broadcast by local media stations to let the community know an emergency is occurring and give instructions. Emergency messages will also be transmitted through Wireless Emergency Alerts to capable cellular devices and the County’s B-WARN! system would be activated. The community may sign up for B-WARN! through the Emergency Management Division pages within the Sheriff’s Office website.