Beginning Friday April 6, emergency alerts in British Columbia issued through the national Alert Ready program will also be sent to compatible wireless devices, such as smartphones, to ensure more people have the information they need to act quickly in an emergency.
“Accurate and timely information in an emergency situation can save lives and livelihoods, and we need to deploy every tool available to alert people of potential public safety threats,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “As technology improves, we are always looking for new ways to broaden our reach and reduce the time it takes to communicate critical safety information. Wireless alerts will help us achieve both of those objectives.”
Calls for better emergency alert communication followed a tsunami warning for some areas of the Vancouver Island and B.C. coasts in the early morning hours of Jan. 23.
Wireless alerts will be publicly tested for the first time in B.C. on May 9, at 1:55 p.m. PDT, alongside routine television and radio tests. Emergency Management BC (EMBC) is the sole agency responsible for issuing emergency notifications on the Alert Ready system in the province, and will initially issue such alerts for tsunami threats only. The Province is considering expanding the use of Alert Ready beyond tsunamis to include other hazards and emergencies in the future.
Wireless alerts will contain instructions for a safe response. In order to receive alerts, mobile phones must be connected to a cellular network, be alert-compatible and within the alert area. They will be broadcast automatically at no cost to the user. Wireless-compatibility information is available at: www.alertready.ca.
“Wireless alerts are a welcome addition to our current alerting tools,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness.
She noted that these alerts will complement the Provincial Emergency Notification System (PENS), social media and, at the community level, sirens, subscription-based text message alerts and other mechanisms. “As the Province continues to refine its emergency management system, it is equally important that all British Columbians take their own steps to prepare by understanding the risks where they live and work, creating an emergency plan and assembling an emergency kit,” Rice said.
— Ministry of Public Safety release