New National Emergency Alert System to warn Canadians of Dangers

Emergency Management officials across the country are testing a new emergency alert system the week of May 7.  Millions of cellphones, tablets and other portable devices will be buzzing across the country to test the new public alert system.

Test signals will be sent on May 7 to about a million mobile users in Ontario and Quebec and the rest of Canada will get the signal on Wednesday, May 9. People can check for the test schedule and information about implementation.

Depending on settings and if the device is on, all users with compatible devices connected to an LTE network will hear a tone similar to an ambulance alarm or feel a vibration for 8 seconds. The signal will also be aired on radio and television stations in the same region and messages will be blasted across social media sites. LTE stands for “Long Term Evolution”, a technical process for high-speed data for phones and other mobile devices.

The CRTC ordered all wireless providers to put a system in place to distribute warnings of imminent safety risks like floods, tornadoes, terrorist attacks or amber alerts as of April 6 under the national warning system known as Alert Ready.   In some cases, users will have to acknowledge receipt of the alert before being able to resume normal function of their devices.

According to officials, the new Alert Ready system’s ability to reach so many people at once makes it hugely valuable to emergency management officials.

With many younger children now carrying cellphones, parents should explain the new system to them and work out family plans for emergency situations. It’s a good opportunity to have a talk about the household emergency plan as many kids will be getting the alerts on their phones. Families should decide things that children will do when their cellphone goes off and says, like week shelter, go to an emergency contact and who that would be. Advanced preparation and practice are key in any emergency.

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