Frequent CAER alarm soundings raise questions

CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - More than 20 years ago, the Community Awareness Emergency Response group, referred to as CAER, formed.

CAER siren alerts were installed in areas near plants to sound if a dangerous chemical is released.

Recent false alarms have many residents agitated with the alert system.

"I think too many of these false alarms would be scary because when it actually happens, people will think it's no big deal and that it's a false alarm," said Sulphur resident Trudi Scarborough.

Emergency officials said the alarms were triggered by accident.

"Two new alarms were installed in the Vinton area," said Dick Gremillion, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in Calcasieu Parish.

"We were testing those sirens to make sure they were connected to the system and an incorrect code was entered and caused the two codes to be set off accidentally," Gremillion said.

In addition to recent false alarms, the alarms sound every Monday around noon while officials test the system. While some residents near the area would like to do away with the tests, officials said they are necessary.

"They are critical in case something happens; you have to make sure they are working," Gremillion said. "They are battery-powered so they do fail sometimes, so we need to check."

While false alarms do raise concerns for residents, officials said people should take each alert seriously.

"If people do hear sirens go off and they are unsure, they need check local media or call OEP at 337-721-3800," Gremillion said.

"We like to remind people that it is important to practice the four steps of shelter in place," Gremillion said. "When you hear an alarm, you should go inside, turn off your ventilation system, close your windows and doors and check with media to see if there is an incident."

In addition to the sirens, residents can sign up for the calling system. If a chemical spill does occur, registered numbers will receive a phone call and text message. For more information on how to register, click HERE.

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