The Alert Carolina Emergency Notification System communicates in multiple ways with students, faculty and staff, as well as visitors, local residents, parents and the news media in the event of an emergency or dangerous situation.

The Alert Carolina System Protocols direct the University to inform the campus community using four different types of notifications:

  • Emergency Warning
  • Crime Alert
  • Informational
  • Adverse Weather

Details about the Alert Carolina System and how people can expect to receive information are included in the University’s Alert Carolina System Protocols. This document also includes information about communicating with parents and families through the Office of New Student and Parent Programs and by registering on the American Red Cross Safe and Well list.

Notification Types

Alerts campus to a confirmed significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to health or safety on campus. Accompanied by emergency sirens to alert people who are outdoors.

When the sirens sound:

  • Go inside or take cover immediately
  • Close windows and doors
  • Stay until further notice

The University communicates an emergency warning by:

The sirens broadcast short pre-recorded voice messages. When the threat is over, the sirens will sound again with a different tone to announce an all-clear message.

Situations in which the sirens would sound include:

  • An armed and dangerous person on or near campus
  • A major chemical spill or hazard
  • tornado warning for Chapel Hill and Carrboro issued by the National Weather Service
  • A different emergency, as determined by UNC Police

When the sirens sound – including during a test – the University also sends a text message to the cellphone numbers registered by students, faculty and staff in the online campus directory. Register your cellphone.

Emergency Warning

Notifies the campus community of any Clery Act crime as soon as the information is available so people can protect themselves and/or their property from similar crimes. Intended to inform people to be cautious, not to take immediate action, so the sirens will not sound.

The University communicates a crime alert by:

A crime alert will be issued only if UNC Police determine:

  • There is a continuing danger to the campus community, and
  • Issuing the crime alert will not compromise law enforcement efforts to address the crime

Clery Act crimes include the following:

  • Criminal homicide, including murder and manslaughter (negligent and non-negligent)
  • Sex offenses (forcible and non-forcible)
  • Dating violence
  • Domestic violence
  • Stalking
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Burglary
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Arson
  • Hate crimes (including any of the above offenses, as well as any incidents of larceny/theft, simple assault, intimidation or destruction/damage/vandalism of property that were motivated by bias)

If UNC Police believes that issuing a crime alert would compromise efforts to address the crime, the notification may be delayed until the potentially compromising situation has been addressed.

Crime Alert

Informs campus when a situation is not an emergency or does not pose an immediate threat to the campus community, but is of significant interest to campus.

The University communicates an informational message by:

  • Updating alertcarolina.unc.edu and the unc.edu homepage
  • Campus-wide email

Examples of incidents that may require an informational message:

  • An alleged assault occurring on or within close proximity to the campus that does not appear to pose a continuing threat
  • A crime occurring off campus but due to its location may have an impact on student or employee security interests

Notification may be elevated to a crime alert if additional information becomes available to UNC Police that there is a continuing threat to the campus community.

Informational Message

Issued when a tornado watch or severe thunderstorm warning is issued by the National Weather Service for Orange County.

The University communicates an adverse weather alert by:

The University will issue a text message for a weather alert when a tornado warning is issued by the National Weather Service for Chapel Hill or Carrboro, or when other significant severe weather conditions exist.

The University may also send adverse weather notifications, including email, when other circumstances exist that do not represent an immediate threat to health or safety, yet action may enable people to protect themselves and/or their property. These situations may include approaching snowstorms or hurricanes.

Read about the UNC System’s Adverse Weather and Emergency Events Policy, which took effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Adverse Weather

Messaging Summary

NOTE: Emergency officials may utilize alternative modes of notification at their discretion.

Type Alert Carolina System External Outlets
Sirens Email Text Web Social Media Official Banner Desktop Alert News Release Digital Signage CATV EAS Mobile Apps
Emergency Notification Alert Carolina Website Twitter
Crime Alert Alert Carolina Website Twitter
Informational Alert Carolina Website
Adverse Weather Alert Carolina Website Twitter