School children across Contra Costa County will participate in the 18th annual countywide shelter-in-place drill to practice safety procedures in the event of a nearby hazardous material release or other incident requiring them to shelter-in-place. Directed by Community Awareness Emergency Response (CAER), this year’s shelter-in-place drill will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, November 6, and all public and private schools, and childcare centers throughout Contra Costa County are encouraged to participate.
CAER’s Executive Director, Tony Semenza says, “Each year we are encouraged with the increased number of participating schools CAER works with. Teachers and students should all know shelter-in-place procedures just as they are trained about what to do in case of a fire or earthquake.”
Each year CAER works with one or more schools to be selected as a model school site for that year’s shelter-in-place drill. A model school site is one that CAER agrees that has sufficiently developed their Shelter in Place program to be a model for other schools. Once selected, CAER works with the sites in advance of and during the drill. This year the model school site is Summer Lake Elementary and Iron House Elementary. Summer Lake is currently housed at Iron House campus because Summer Lake is still under construction. Iron House Elementary is located at 4801 Frank Hengel Way in Oakley.
This annual safety event gives children and their caregivers an important opportunity to practice responding to the Community Warning System (CWS) alerts, which includes a series of sirens along the waterfront areas from Richmond to Antioch. The CWS sounds a siren when there has been a dangerous chemical release or other disaster that requires a shelter-in-place. These alerts are also sent via radio, TV, cell and land line calls and social media postings.
Hazardous material releases can result from many sources in Contra Costa County, including accidents at chemical treatment plants, wastewater treatment facilities, facilities that store and/or manufacture hazardous materials, refineries, but also from collisions involving trucks or trains that transport chemicals. The possibility of accidents make it important for the county’s youngest members to recognize and respond correctly to shelter-in-place alerts.
CAER is a coalition of local agencies, businesses, industries, community groups and emergency response organizations. CAER works to improve emergency response planning and to actively enhance public health and safety. For more information, visit cococaer.org.