Berkeley will now play 'wailing siren tone' in emergencies

Berkeley's new outdoor warning system will advise about emergency action, which would differ depending on the disaster.

Berkeley will now play 'wailing siren tone' in emergencies
Being prepared will help you act fast. Subscribe to AC Alert and try using Berkeley’s emergency map. Caleb Cook

A new outdoor warning system in Berkeley will use a wailing siren tone and voice message to prompt the public to seek emergency information, details of which will be on the city’s emergency map and alerting systems.

The siren and voice message would signal that people in some or all parts of Berkeley should take emergency action, which would differ depending on the situation.

A wildfire might prompt a message to evacuate part or all of the Berkeley Hills. A tsunami message would direct people to get onto land, away from the marina and the shoreline of the San Francisco Bay.

A different emergency warning might tell a neighborhood to shelter in place.

People in unaffected areas should also stay up-to-date with real-time emergency notifications. An evacuation for one neighborhood might require others to stay off the roads.

All of us play a role in an emergency.

Start now:

  • Subscribe your household to AC Alert, a text and email system that can be tailored to notify you of emergencies in specific locations.
  • Practice searching for your home on Berkeley’s Emergency Map, which first responders use to give neighborhood-specific protective actions in real time.

When you hear Berkeley’s new outdoor warning system, use AC Alert and the Emergency Map to gather critical information to help you take action.

Berkeley warning system was built to be flexible

Atop buildings across Berkeley — from the marina to the hills — the warning system is intended to be a new layer of emergency notification that will reach people outdoors.

The goal is to amplify Berkeley's primary emergency tools while being flexible enough to respond to a variety of disasters, be it a tsunami or wildfire.

The new sirens were made possible by Berkeley voters’ passage of Measure FF in 2020. After a period of study and assessment, installation started earlier this year. The siren system is tied to the PG&E grid, and it also has a solar-powered battery backup that can be activated by landline, cellphone, computer or satellite.

To date, 10 sirens have been installed. The remaining five are projected to be installed by early 2024.

If you want to get familiar with the sirens’ sounds and voice messages, listen to example messages on SoundCloud.

Know how to evacuate safely

Knowing information is only one step. Take the required action.

For those who live near wildfire zones or in the hills, use our step-by-step Fire Weather Planning Tool as a guide. You’ll document where you’ll stay and who in your house needs help, create a go-bag, and determine how you’ll evacuate — including two routes by foot and two by car.

When the siren sounds, a plan will help you protect yourself and your household.

The successful evacuation of entire neighborhoods depends on as many people as possible doing their part and following the guidance from AC Alert and Berkeley’s emergency map.

Being prepared for the signal will help you act fast. Subscribe to AC Alert and try using Berkeley’s emergency map.

This post originally appeared on the city of Berkeley website and has been reprinted here in full with minor edits for clarity. Get more city of Berkeley alerts by subscribing online.