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Public alert testing: What to do if you receive an emergency alert


By now, most of us are familiar with the alert system that notifies us when there is an emergency, such as an amber alert, tornado or flash flood. Understanding what steps to take when we receive an alert is important for our own and other’s safety, so here’s what you need to know:

You can’t opt out.

Regulations mandated by the CRTC require all commercial, campus, community and Indigenous radio and television broadcasters, cable, satellite and IPTV providers, as well as wireless service providers to distribute emergency alerts. There is no sign-up or opt-in required. Emergency alerts will be automatically sent through these broadcast channels and to compatible wireless devices.

Tests are identified.

If you’re not sure whether you’re being alerted to a real emergency or it’s just a test, remember that test alert messages will be identified as such. These messages are intended to test the functionality of the system, build awareness of wireless emergency alerts and do not require you take steps to secure your safety. Learn more about how emergency alerts are broadcast in your region, when a test alert will take place and other resources by visiting www.AlertReady.ca.

Compatible devices.

In order for your device to receive an alert, it must be a wireless public alerting (WPA) compatible device. This includes smartphones capable of connecting to an LTE network; devices equipped with the latest version of their operating software; and being connected to an LTE cellular network at the time the emergency alert is issued or joins the network while the alert is still active. Older cell phones that operate exclusively on non-LTE networks will not get an alert.

Remain calm.

Upon receiving an emergency alert, it’s important to take action safely. Stop what you’re doing when it’s safe to do so. Alerting authorities will include the information you need and guidance for any action you are required to take. This could include limiting unnecessary travel, evacuating the areas and seeking shelter. 911 should only be called if someone is in imminent danger. 911 service is a life-saving tool that should only be used for emergencies and should not be used for complaints about the national public alerting system. Find more information at alertready.ca.

- News Canada

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