Emergency Alarms: What Do They Mean?

The City of Texas City sounded the emergency sirens when an explosion and fire erupted at the Valero Refinery Texas City Refinery on April 19.

One of the city’s sirens is located across the street from College of the Mainland, which made the alarm prominent. During the emergency, many questions arose as to what to do when a siren sounds. Does it mean everyone should stay inside? Evacuate their building? Should employees get in their cars and leave, especially since the siren sounded around 5 p.m.

The city has 16 sirens located throughout the city to alert about possible dangers such as a chemical spill, accidental chemical release, weather related situations such as tornados or an incident such as the fire at Valero.

Here is some helpful information should the city’s sirens sound again:

When you hear the emergency sirens:
Go indoors; close all windows and doors; turn off the air conditioning. You will receive pertinent information from College of the Mainland via text or phone provided you have opted to receive such information. Updates also are posted on the COM website and through COM’s social media channels.  COM faculty, staff and students also can sign up to receive emergency updates from the City of Texas City.

Please note that shortly after an incident in which the siren is sounded, first responders, including COM’s Police Department and Emergency Management, are immediately assessing the situation. Necessary information will be provided as soon as possible to keep everyone safe. Calling the police department during this critical time is not advised.

What do the sirens mean?

High - low - high - low - high - low - high - low - high - low: Go indoors
Single frequency continuous tone: All clear

Are the City of Texas City’s sirens tested?

In order to ensure sirens are operational, the city’s sirens are tested every Wednesday at noon.  You also may hear sirens at 11:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. on Wednesdays when Marathon    Petroleum tests their siren system.

When are sirens activated?

The city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is activated when the mayor deems it necessary or a Level 3 incident occurs.

There are four levels of incident management and response to industrial accidents of which the public should be aware.

Please review the emergency classification levels and responsibilities below:

Level I: An incident has occurred and can be controlled by facility personnel. The situation is under control and no action is needed by citizens.

Level II: An incident has occurred but it does not pose a threat and no action is needed by citizens. The Texas City Fire Department is on site and providing assistance.

Level III: An incident has occurred and the situation is not under control and protective action may be necessary for the surrounding or offsite area. Additional Industrial Mutual Aid System (IMAS) aid may be needed. The EOC is activated, the siren warning is given to the public and information is relayed via telephone to citizens who have signed up for emergency notifications.

Level IV: An incident has occurred and the situation is not under control. Actions by more than first responders or facility personnel are necessary. An incident involving a severe hazard or a large area which poses an extreme threat to life and property and will probably require an evacuation, or an incident requiring the expertise and resources of the IMAS, neighboring cities, county, state, federal, or private agencies/organizations.

Last week’s emergency also served as a reminder to sign up for emergency notifications from both COM and the City of Texas City. All employees and enrolled students automatically are enrolled in the COM Alert rapid notification system using the contact information provided to the Human Resources Department and registration, respectively. For information about COM notifications, please contact Trish McIntosh, COM’s emergency management coordinator, at pmcintosh@com.edu or at extension 8267.

You do not have to be a Texas City resident to receive the notifications by telephone or text from the city. The signup process is quick and simple at the following link: https://texascitytx.bbcportal.com 

Source: Texas City Emergency Management

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