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On May 7th, all smartphones on an LTE network will receive a test notification for the new Public Emergency Alert System.

Canadian Emergency Broadcast

Don’t let it catch you off guard – coming up on May 7th, 2018, if you live in Ontario or Quebec, your smartphone will receive a test alert for Canada’s Public Emergency Alert System. The same test will run in the rest of the country on May 9th.

Be aware that this first notification will simply be a test by all major broadcast and telecom companies that offer LTE service. In some cases, you may be required to acknowledge receipt of the alert. Depending on your service provider, the alert may also make a notification sound that circumvents the settings on your phone (i.e., even if you have your phone set to silent, in some cases it may still notify with a noise).

These notifications will be sent out as a part of the Alert Ready Emergency Alert System. According to their website, Alert Ready is “designed to deliver critical and potentially life-saving alerts to Canadians through television and radio. The Alert Ready system is developed in partnership with federal, provincial, and territorial emergency management officials, Environment and Climate Change Canada, The Weather Network, and the broadcasting industry and wireless service providers, to ensure you receive alerts immediately and know when to take action to keep yourself and your family safe”.

Once tested and verified, these types of alerts will be sent to Canadians to inform them about a range of types of emergencies and imminent threats, including:

  • Natural Disasters
    • Tornado: a vortex of violently rotating winds, often forming a funnel-shaped cloud that is capable of damaging property and injuring people.
    • Flash Flood: Usually caused by river ice jams and excessive unpredicted rainfall, a flash flood is a sudden onset of water causing immediate flooding of the local area. The danger is in the little to no warning to local residential areas.
    • Earthquake: A sudden release of violent seismic waves due to energy generated by the movement of plates in the Earth’s crust, which can cause extensive damage in urban environments.
    • Hurricane: A violent storm made up of intense winds and heavy rain that can lead to storm surge, floods, coastal erosion, and landslides.
  • Fires
    • Urban Fire: Any urban fire that presents a threat to multiple residential and/or commercial properties.
    • Industrial Fire: A large fire in an industrial building or complex that poses a threat to human health.
    • Wildfire: A large natural fire involving combustibles such as grass, brush, and trees.
    • Forest Fire: As opposed to a wildfire, a forest fire burns in a forested area, grass or alpine/tundra vegetation and poses a threat to human safety.
  • Biological
    • Biological: A potentially dangerous or poisonous substance that is both unstable and easily transferred between living organisms.
    • Chemical: The misuse or release (unintentional or otherwise) of a chemical substance that could result in serious injury or death.
    • Radiological: A radiological (radioactive) substance with sufficient concentration to do serious or lethal harm to exposed populations.
    • Drinking Water Contamination: In the event that drinking water is negatively affected and as such, a boil-water advisory is raised, cautioning use by the public.
  • Hazardous
    • Explosive: A potentially dangerous substance or device that may explode within an affecting radius of an urban environment or concentrated population.
  • Terrorist
    • Terrorist Threat: The use of violence or threat of violence by individuals or groups against civilians or infrastructure.
  • Environmental
    • Air Quality: Caused by an elevated particulate count in the atmosphere that could negatively affect visibility or the health of individuals.
    • Falling Objects: Natural or human-made materials at risk of falling, which may threaten people or property.
  • Civil
    • Civil Emergency: Occurring when humans cause a disruption of services or require varying levels of support, law enforcement, or attention.
    • Animal Danger: Occurring when a wild or domesticated animal poses a threat to human life or property.
    • Amber Alert: Issued when a child has been abducted and police services believe that the child’s life is in grave danger. This type of alert gives the public immediate and up-to-date information about the abduction in order to gain their assistance in ensuring a fast and safe return of the child.
    • 911 Service: This type of alert occurs when there is a disruption or outage of telecommunication services between public and emergency responders.

Check out the Alert Ready website to hear an example of the specific alert tone that will play through television, radio, and wireless broadcasts to notify Canadians of an impending emergency.

Be sure to take note of how the test occurs – it is the public’s responsibility to ensure that they understand what the alert is informing them of, to consider it carefully, and to respond appropriately and as directed.

For more information about Alert Ready, check out their website here.