Is it just a test? 3 places to look for siren information

Editor's Note: This story was updated Oct. 28, 2019.

All equipment needs to be maintained to continue to work properly – and outdoor warning sirens around our nuclear plants are no exception.

As part of maintenance, sirens are regularly tested. And, because tests are sometimes audible, they are a source of questions from neighbors, especially as people move into the communities around our plants.

It can be unsettling to hear one of these sirens if you’re not familiar with their purpose or how they work. So, if you hear a siren, how can you determine if it’s a test or an emergency? Follow these three steps.

1. First, check to see if it’s a scheduled siren test date. Sirens are tested weekly using a “silent test” that cannot be heard by the public. Once a quarter, however, we conduct a full volume test of the system, usually on the second Wednesday of the month. 

You can find the exact dates on our nuclear emergency preparedness website and in your 2019-2020 emergency planning booklet, which was mailed to all plant neighbors.

2. Sometimes sirens around a plant require maintenance and are tested afterward to ensure they are working properly. If you hear a siren and it’s not a scheduled test day, check social media for updates. We will share updates through our nuclear Twitter and Facebook accounts. We will also share this information with local media and our emergency management partners, so you may see updates on their websites and social media accounts, too.

3. In the event of an actual emergency, we will provide regular updates through local and social media before sirens are activated. However, if you hear sirens repeatedly sounding and it does not appear to be a test, tune into a local radio or TV station. Stations will also carry emergency alert information messages from local officials to instruct you on what to do. You can find a list of primary emergency alert stations online and in your emergency planning booklet.

Still have a question? Ask us. Our nuclear and corporate social media accounts are great sources of information if you ever have a question about outdoor warning sirens or other emergency planning information.

You can also call your county or state emergency management office as we closely coordinate emergency planning activities with them. Many of our county and state partners also have mobile-friendly tools to keep neighbors informed. For example, South Carolina Emergency Management reaches out via Twitter alerts and emergency alerts, and North Carolina Emergency Management has an emergency planning app.

The bottom line? Our nuclear plants have a long history of safe operations, and outdoor warning sirens are one of many ways we are prepared to alert plant neighbors of an emergency, however unlikely.

Comments (4)

Posted January 29, 2019 by Duke Energy
Gary - We have changed the format for our emergency planning information this year. We mailed emergency planning booklets to plant neighbors last August. The information is similar to what was in the calendars, just in a different format. If you did not receive a booklet and would like one, we will be happy to mail you another. You can also find the same information on our website:
Posted January 28, 2019 by Gary W Bell
I Did Not Recieve a 2019 Calandar, Are we not getting them anymore?
Posted January 10, 2019 by Duke Energy
Jason, we streamlined our emergency planning communications into one booklet for all plant neighbors this year. You should have received an emergency planning booklet in the mail last August. It contains the same basic information as the calendars did. You can also visit to see information related to the nuclear plant closest to you. Please let us know if you did not receive a booklet but would like one.
Posted January 10, 2019 by Jason Cockfield
Are we not getting a calendar this year?

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