At 1:55 AM on December 20, 2017, Emergency Management BC conducted a test of the BC Emergency Alerting System. This is part of the Canada-wide system – AlertReady – that allows government officials to issue public safety alerts through major television and radio broadcasters. This system will only be used during large-scale disasters or emergencies where loss of life is imminent or possible.
During the test, the public heard this alert on both radio and TV, followed by the message:
“This is a test of the British Columbia Emergency Alerting System issued by Emergency Management British Columbia. This is only a test. If this had been an actual emergency or threat you would now hear instructions that would assist you to protect you and your family. This is only a test. No action is required.”
This and subsequent testing will determine the system’s readiness for an actual emergency, as well as identify any issues prior to formal implementation in B.C. Timing of implementation will depend on the outcome of these tests.
Messages delivered through BC’s Emergency Alerting System will complement, not replace, existing notification methods via social media (Emergency Info BC & @EmergencyInfoBC), the Provincial Emergency Notification System (PENS) or other emergency warning functions provided by Local Authorities, First Nations and other agencies.
What I Need to Know:
What is Alert Ready?
- Alert Ready is a new, standardized Canada-wide program that allows government officials in each province and territory to issue emergency alerts through major television and local radio broadcasters.
- Additional information about Alert Ready can be found on the Alert Ready website.
- The system is new and will be made operational in B.C. once testing is complete.
What is the BC Emergency Alerting System?
- The BC Emergency Alerting System is the BC-specific name for the Alert Ready program and is part of a new public alerting program at Emergency Management BC.
- The system will be used to interrupt television and local radio broadcasts with information on disasters and emergencies, where lives are at risk.
- Once operational, the system will be used to deliver lifesaving information on disasters and emergencies to the public.
- Alerts will be issued only to the affected regions or areas within B.C. However, some alerts could be issued province-wide or could affect more than one region.
When will the BC Emergency Alerting System be fully operational?
- This is part of a multi-year project to develop an emergency alerting program in the province.
- No. Public emergency alerting will complement, but not replace, emergency alerting already performed by EMBC by broadcasting intrusive alerts directly to the public. This will ensure the public is alerted as soon as possible – local emergency alerting processes will follow.
Will I receive an emergency alert on my phone?
- No, not yet. Future system enhancements may include other methods such as cellular, SMS/text and smartphone apps.
Will I receive an alert on satellite radio or on Netflix?
- No. You will only receive alerts on television networks and local radio stations at this time. The system geographically targets alerts to limit over alerting and can only be used over location aware communication channels.
Will I have to subscribe to the service?
- Once testing is complete and the system is operational, alerts will be broadcast without a subscription and at no cost. This will ensure the maximum number of people receive the alert immediately.
What should I do if I see or hear an emergency alert on radio or television?
- Follow the instructions indicated in the message if it pertains to your situation and location. Seek more details from local media and authorities.
How will I know when an alert had ended?
- When the danger has passed, the system cannot be used to interrupt television and local radio broadcasts to give an “all clear” message. However, it is expected that this information will continue to be distributed via the media and news programs.
How often will the system be tested?
- Tests will be conducted about five times a year.