When San Francisco’s Outdoor Public Warning System went off at around 3:47 PM Sunday, residents of course wondered what was going on — typically the, the siren sounds off only on Tuesdays at noon, in a weekly test of the system.

According to a San Francisco Department of Emergency Management spokesperson reached by the Appeal, however, the sirens went off “by mistake” on Sunday afternoon, and San Franciscans have nothing to fear.

The Department of Emergency Management spokesperson couldn’t offer any additional details on how the siren accident occurred at publication time.

According to SF 311’s Twitter account, “The siren signified the end of Sunday Streets, this week in Chinatown. Should only have been in Chinatown.”

At 5:15 PM, well over an hour after the event, Alert SF emailed and texted subscribers with the message that “the sirens were activated citywide inadvertently this afternoon. There is no emergency in San Francisco.”

According to the Department of Emergency Management, if you hear the siren at any time other than noon Tuesday, San Franciscans should: stop what they’re are doing, stay calm, listen for possible voice announcements, and turn on the radio or television, (such as KCBS 740AM, KQED 88.5 FM) for important information provided by the city.

DEM also says we should “Avoid using the telephone…unless you have a life-threatening emergency.” Guess I blew that one, by making calls to city offices to figure out what was up. Sorry about that, DEM!

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • Paul Burry

    You called DEM, wrote this story, and posted it in 3 minutes?? It’s Sunday! Go outside!

  • Paul Burry

    You called DEM, wrote this story, and posted it in 3 minutes?? It’s Sunday! Go outside!

  • Eve Batey

    To be fair, I dialed DEM, started writing story while on hold, got statement, then published. So it took me more like 5 minutes.

    Then I unpaused The Hunger Games and picked my bag of potato chips back up.

  • Eve Batey

    To be fair, I dialed DEM, started writing story while on hold, got statement, then published. So it took me more like 5 minutes.

    Then I unpaused The Hunger Games and picked my bag of potato chips back up.