Do You Know How to “Shelter in Place”?

Last Friday, June 21st, at approximately 4 a.m., there was a massive fire and explosion at the South Philadelphia Refinery. Early warning sirens were sounded around 5:30 a.m., and a shelter in place warning was issued in the area immediately around the refinery. The blast was said to have been felt as far away as South Jersey. Thankfully no injuries were reported.

The Community Alert Siren System was put in place for exactly this situation and has been in operation since 2006. It is the result of the collaboration of the owner of the refinery Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), various community groups and the City of Philadelphia. The sirens are tested on the first Saturday of each month at noon for 30 seconds. If there is a real emergency, the sirens will sound continuously for three full minutes. If the sirens are heard, residents of Southwest and South Philadelphia should follow the Shelter-in-Place safety steps.

  1. Do not panic, but go inside immediately.
  2. Close all doors and windows
  3. Turn off the ventilation system,
  4. Go to an easily sealed room and stay there.
  5. Tune the radio to KYW 1060 (AM) for instructions
  6. Wait for the “All Clear” broadcast.

Residents can also sign up to receive emergency alerts electronically with ReadyNotifyPA. In the event of an emergency such as a fire, severe weather, or road closures, local officials will be able to send important alerts directly to you. To receive these alerts, visit to sign up. If you wish to receive alerts specifically for the refinery, go to the “My Alerts” page, and make sure to select “PES Refining Complex Alerts.”

Share This