BC Emergency Alerting System Test. May 9, 2018
On Wednesday, May 9 at 1:55PM, Emergency Management BC conducted a test of the BC Emergency Alerting System. This is part of a Canada-wide system – AlertReady – that allows government officials to issue public safety alerts through major television and radio broadcasters and compatible wireless devices. This system will only be used during large-scale disasters or emergencies where loss of life is imminent and possible.
During the test, the public heard this alert on both radio and TV, and saw the following message on radio, TV and compatible wireless devices:
“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. For further information go to www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca 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 Canada-wide program that allows government officials in each province and territory to issue emergency alerts.
- You can currently expect to receive emergency alerts via Canadian radio and TV, cable and satellite operators. This will also be the first test of wireless public alerts.
- Visit Alert Ready to find out if your device is compatible.
- Alerts will be issued only to the affected regions or areas within BC. However, some alerts could be issued province-wide or could affect more than one region.
- No. Public emergency alerting will complement, not replace, emergency alerting already performed by EMBC by broadcasting intrusive alerts directly to the public.
Will I receive an emergency alert on my phone?
- Yes. In order for emergency alerts to be received on a wireless device, the device must be:
- A smartphone that is able to use the LTE (or 4G) network for high-speed wireless communication;
- Wireless Public Alerting compatible;
- Connected to an LTE cellular network at the time the emergency alert is issued; and
- Within the emergency alert area.
- To find out if your phone is compatible, visit Alert Ready.
- Some carriers are doing silent tests of their systems to make sure things are working in advance of the test. Depending on your phone settings you may receive an alert without a sound.
Why does the alert say “Presidential Alert”?
- Wireless public alerts use an international standard and the broadcast channel that is often called “Presidential Alert” in the United States. Governments and private sector partners have worked with Canadian wireless service providers to use the term “EMERGENCY ALERT / ALERTE D’URGENCE”, as identified in version 2.0 of the National Public Alerting System Common Look and Feel Guidance, published on March 29, 2018. However, some phones pre-dating this guidance, or that were either purchased outside of Canada or manufactured to be compatible with the U.S. Wireless Emergency Alerts system, will use the American international standard and will display “Presidential Alert”, or another non-Canadian headline banner.
Will I have to subscribe to the service?
- Alerts will be broadcast without a subscription and at no cost. This will ensure the maximum number of people receive the alert immediately.
What hazards will I be alerted to?
- In BC, the system will only be used to alert to a potential tsunami. Additional testing will be scheduled as the system is expanded to include other types of hazards.
What should I do if I see or hear an emergency alert?
- Upon receiving an emergency alert, it is important to take action safely. Stop what you are doing when it is safe to do so and read the emergency alert. Information could include but is not limited to: limit unnecessary travel, evacuate the areas, seek shelter, etc.
- If safe to do so, seek credible information from officials in your community.
- Do not contact 911 for information related to an alert, unless a life is at risk.
How will I know when an alert had ended?
- An “all clear” message may be issued once the situation has been resolved. The “all clear” message could be distributed via radio and television stations at their discretion, but will not be sent to wireless devices.
How often will the system be tested?
- Tests will be conducted throughout the year. Dates and times will be advertised.