The University maintains over 20 different ways to communicate a message in an emergency, which together create the Carolina Alert Notification System. It is important to note that no, one system is capable of reaching everyone, everywhere, every time. Each communication method has strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. As such, it is valuable to consider an emergency notification system that utilizes multiple delivery methods. This ensures a greater coverage of intended recipients and redundancy.
The following circumstances are outlined to provide the community an understanding as to which forms of communication may be used by the Columbia campus in various situations:
- Requires Action:
If a situation exists that poses an immediate risk to life safety and requires persons to change their behavior (i.e. seek shelter, evacuate, etc.), information may be pushed using disruptive media (i.e. sirens, AlertFM, text messages, TV message crawler, etc.).
- Public Notification:
If a situation exists where persons should be notified about an incident that is not immediately life threatening (i.e. crime alerts, situations that have already been contained, etc.), media such as the Carolina Alert website, social media, or select others may be used to communicate the information.
The following list is not intended to be a comprehensive, complete, definitive or binding list of Carolina Alert delivery methods that will be used in an emergency. Based on the situation at hand and the authorized person's professional judgment, University personnel are free to select individual methods from the list, choose to use other communication methods not listed, or decide not to use any notifications at all.
Carolina Alert Website
The central hub for all emergency information for the University of South Carolina. This site details how the University is preparing for emergencies and informs students, faculty, and staff how they can be ready for a crisis on campus. During an emergency, the website may be updated with official University announcements, situation reports, or protective action recommendations.
The site also will include information about situations that aren't immediately threatening to life safety but still warrant a notification (i.e. crime alert, University closing, health advisory, weather advisory, etc.).
The Carolina Alert website is also linked to a RSS Feed. Each time a Carolina Alert is posted an RSS feed will automatically be sent. To receive automatic updates from the website, subscribe to the Carolina Alert RSS feed.
The University employs social media networks including Facebook to help broadcast messages to the Carolina community in an emergency. The University may also distribute information about situations that aren't immediately threatening to life safety but still warrant a notification (i.e. crime alert, University closing, health advisory, weather advisory, etc.)
Facebook users can join the Carolina Alert Facebook page by visiting www.facebook.com/carolinaalert and clicking the "Like" button.
The University employs social media networks including Twitter to help broadcast messages to the Carolina community in an emergency. The University may also distribute information about situations that aren't immediately threatening to life safety but still warrant a notification (i.e. crime alert, University closing, health advisory, weather advisory, etc.)
Twitter users can follow Carolina Alert tweets by visiting www.twitter.com/carolinaalert and clicking the "Follow" button. Followers are encouraged to forward Carolina Alert tweets to your cell phone.
The University of South Carolina website, www.sc.edu, is the online source for a variety of campus information. At any time, users can access emergency preparation information by clicking the Safety/Emergency Information link in the bottom left corner of the page.
During an emergency the main University website may feature headlines, links to the Carolina Alert page, and more detailed information about the situation. The prominence of the information will be proportional to the severity and urgency of the situation.
Outdoor Warning Sirens / Tone-Alert Radios
The University maintains five outdoor warning sirens that are strategically positioned throughout campus to deliver emergency messages to persons outdoors. The sirens broadcast alert tones, followed by safety instructions, which are very loud and distinct and should easily be heard by those outdoors. If for some reason a person cannot hear or understand the directions broadcast on the sirens, that person should take shelter in the nearest building and seek further information.
While the sirens are designed to be heard outside, select buildings on campus house tone-alert radios that broadcast the sirens' message indoors to a central location.
The outdoor warning system and tone alert radios are tested each Friday at approximately 12:10pm.
Voice Over Fire Alarm
Certain buildings on campus have the ability to make voice announcements over the fire alarm systems. For emergencies involving isolated buildings, targeted announcements may be made using this system. Those buildings include: 1600 Hampton St., Maxcy Hall, Special Collections Library, Cliff Apartments, Bates House, Bates West, Bates Cafeteria, South Tower, Jones Physical Science Center, Koger Center for the Arts, Strom Wellness Center, Colonial Life Arena, Capstone, Columbia Hall, Dodie Academic Enrichment Center, Horizon Research, and the Carolina Baseball Stadium.
Select televisions, commonly located in public areas used to display digital messages around campus, can be overtaken by University emergency personnel who may broadcast emergency information when an incident arises.
Many radio consoles in newer cars scroll a text message displaying the information such as the radio station name, song title, or artist. Alert FM uses this same technology to broadcast emergency messages to wall-mounted receivers located in public areas around campus.
Small, personal desktop receivers also will be available for purchase in the future by students, faculty, staff, and parents who are in listening range of WUSC 90.5 FM.
By registering your cell phone number on VIP, students, faculty, and staff can receive emergency text messages alerting them to a current or imminent threat. To register or update your emergency contact information, visit VIP, log in, click the "Personal tab", and then select "Emergency Notification."
Carolina Alert messages will be sent from the number 67283 or 226787. Subscribers are encouraged to enter these numbers into their phone's contacts, name the contact "Carolina Alert", and choose a unique ringtone.
The University can alert students, faculty and staff of emergency conditions by sending an email to your official University-supplied e-mail address. To register or update your emergency contact information, visit VIP, log in, click the "Personal tab", and then select "Emergency Notification".
If you don't frequently use your University e-mail, follow these instructions to forward your e-mails to a different account.
Emergency Information Line, 803-777-5700
Official emergency information or the current University status may be available by calling 803-777-5700. Calling this number will allow anyone to listen to a recorded message. Please keep in mind that this recording may take several minutes to update.
Television Message Crawl
The University has the ability to scroll messages across the bottom of, or place a box in the middle of, all the cable television stations on campus.
One of the frequently viewed web portals visited at USC is Blackboard. Emergency information may be posted on the login screen or throughout these site.
WUSC 90.5 FM Radio
Tune into WUSC at 90.5 FM or online to receive notifications and information during an emergency. WUSC-FM is the 2500-watt non-commercial, educational, free-format student radio station at the University, broadcasting in high definition radio 24 hours per day at 90.5 FM. During an emergency, on-air DJs may break in with an announcement. Listeners with HD radio receivers may also see scrolling messages on their console's display screen.
Most buildings on campus are equipped with fire alarm systems, which are used when conditions exist that require occupants to evacuate a building. University policy requires all occupants evacuate the building when a fire alarm sounds, and personnel must wait for clearance from Environmental Health and Safety, the fire department, or law enforcement personnel before re-entering the building.
Building PA Systems
Some facilities on campus are equipped with public address systems that can be used to make emergency announcements. Those facilities include: Williams-Brice Stadium, Carolina Baseball Stadium, Colonial Life Arena, Koger Center for the Arts, Stone Soccer Field, Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center, Weems Baskin Track, and the volleyball facility.
Vehicle Public Address Speakers
In emergencies where an isolated or targeted message may be required for persons outdoors, vehicles equipped with public address speakers (i.e. police vehicles) may be used. These vehicles also can be used to circulate through campus broadcasting the message to those outdoors.
The police department has a limited supply of bullhorns that can be distributed to personnel for use in broadcasting an emergency message.
The University's Office of Media Relations regularly provides information to local, state, and national media through news releases, media advisories, daybooks, news conferences, and media availabilities.
Depending on the scope or severity of a campus emergency, local media may offer reports.