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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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New sirens on NMSU campus to be tested April 7

If you're on or near the New Mexico State University campus April 7, you may find cause for alarm. Don't worry, though?it's only a test.



This siren on the NMSU campus is designed to warn of impending weather emergencies in the Las Cruces area. It will be tested April 7. (NMSU photo by Stephen Lopez)

A pair of new alarm warning sirens have been erected on the eastern and western ends of campus, and beginning April 7 and continuing at noon on the first Wednesday of each month thereafter, the sirens will be tested to insure that they're ready to go in case of a real emergency.

While tied into the NMSU emergency management system, the sirens will only be used for weather-related emergencies?primarily tornado warnings.

During testing, the alarms will sound simultaneously for one minute, beginning at noon. In an actual emergency situation, they will sound continuously for two minutes. Subscribers to the emergency management system will also receive phone calls, text messages and/or e-mails, and the university Web site will feature details of the weather emergency, as well as instructions on what to do.

"The sirens serve as a first response system," said Stephen Lopez, deputy chief of police at NMSU. "When you hear them during an actual emergency situation, the first thing we want people to do is head for shelter. Get inside to a safe place, and then check the Web site or local news for additional information. And remember, during a high-wind event, a vehicle should not be considered safe."

If you're near the Las Cruces campus, it will be difficult not to hear the sirens, which are located adjacent to the USDA building on College Drive and on the north side of the Coca-Cola Weight Training Facility by Aggie Memorial Stadium. The sirens have an effective sound radius of one mile, and they rotate while sounding. During high winds, this gives the sound ample opportunity to spread throughout the campus and into the surrounding community; the eastside siren will be audible even from the NMSU Golf Course.

Lopez pointed out that the initial test April 7 would involve the entire emergency management system. When the sirens are deployed, e-mails, text messages and voicemails also will go out, and the NMSU Web site will note that a test is in progress.

In subsequent months, only the alarms will be tested. Other emergency communications will still be tested once per semester, separately from the siren tests.

"The siren system is a joint effort with the National Weather Service," Lopez said. "NMSU is in the process of becoming certified as a StormReady university?just the 44th in the United States. We'll be the first community in southern New Mexico to be certified StormReady."

According to the NWS Web site, "StormReady communities are better prepared to save lives from the onslaught of severe weather through advanced planning, education and awareness."

The NWS reports that each year Americans cope with an average of 10,000 thunderstorms, 5,000 floods, 1,000 tornadoes, and an average of two landfalling deadly hurricanes?on top of winter storms, intense summer heat, high winds, wild fires and other deadly weather impacts.