County's annual Shelter-in-Place Drill taking place Wednesday

Students to prepare for dangerous situations such as hazmat incident

Schoolchildren across Contra Costa County are set to participate in the 18th annual countywide Shelter-in-Place Drill on Wednesday, in order to help students and faculty more adequately for potentially dangerous events where the safest course of action is to stay in one place.

Directed by the Contra Costa County Community Awareness Emergency Response (CAER) Group Inc., organizers say the annual safety event will give students and other residents the opportunity to prepare for Community Warning System (CWS) alerts -- which includes a series of sirens along the waterfront areas from Richmond to Antioch.

“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,” CAER executive director Tony Semenza said in a statement.

During the event, students will conduct a stay-in place drill by going inside, locking all doors and windows and sealing any gaps in windows or doors with tape or damp towels. Next, participants are advised to turn on the radio or TV to get more information and wait for an all clear signal.

CAER is a coalition of local agencies, businesses, industries, community groups and emergency response organizations that work to help the Contra Costa County community plan for emergency response situations. One such way being directing events such as the shelter-in-place drill to help residents be prepared for a CWS alert.

In the event of a dangerous chemical release or other disaster that requires a shelter-in-place, the CWS will sound off throughout the county, with accompanying alerts going out via radio, TV, cell and landline calls, as well as social media postings.

Hazardous materials can be released from many sources in Contra Costa County according to CAER officials, who say releases can result from accidents at chemical treatment plants, refineries, wastewater treatment facilities, facilities that store or manufacture hazardous materials, or even 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 officials said in a statement.

The 18th annual Contra Costa County Shelter-in-Place Drill will take place at schools throughout the county on Wednesday.

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