If you live in Saskatchewan, your LTE cell phone will now automatically alert you when an emergency occurs in your area.
The Alert Ready system launches in the province today, and many wireless customers' devices can now alert them to emergencies which have a direct impact on public safety. There is no additional cost associated with receiving emergency alert messages, according to Alert Ready, and as the messages are sent to every phone in specific regions without the need for a specific phone number, there is no risk to any personal information.
The alerts are sent out to phones in specific geographic regions, meaning people traveling in those areas will also receive the local alerts. According to Alert Ready, phones connected to an LTE cellular network will receive the messages within seconds of it being issued. If an alert is issued in or around a customer's home community while they are traveling, they will not receive the message.
The alerts will be sent out for a variety of emergency events, like natural, environmental or biological disasters, fires or terrorist attacks. Civil emergencies, Amber Alerts, and dangerous animals will trigger the alert system, and an alert is also sent out for potential disruption of telecommunication services between the public and emergency responders.
Depending on the type of cellular network your phone uses, it may not be compatible with the Alert Ready system. Information on which devices are compatible can be found online. Test alerts can also be sent out, and those messages will be clearly marked. According to Alert Ready, some phones will require the messages to be acknowledged before the device can be used normally again.
Lyle Karasiuk, spokesperson for Prince Albert's Parkland Ambulance, said the new alert system will improve public safety across the province.
“Anything that we can share, whether that’s locally, whether that’s nationally, to alert people of impending danger … I think it’s going to make us all a little bit safer, and a little bit more aware,” Karasiuk said.
Although happy to see the new system implemented, Karasiuk stressed the alert system does not make up for planning ahead when it comes to emergencies. He encouraged people to consider what they would do in the event of an emergency and make a plan to ensure their family’s safety. Karasiuk suggested selecting a meeting place, so families know where to go in the event of an emergency, and also recommended preparing a bag full of everything the family could need for at least 72 hours in the event of a long power outage, or if they’re unable to re-enter their home.
“This is a great alert tool, and it’s excellent for letting people know that the impending danger is near, but also it means to be prepared,” Karasiuk said. “When those emergencies do happen, we need to make sure people realize … police, fire, paramedics are going to be overwhelmed.”
Karasiuk recommended everyone visit the Government of Canada’s emergency preparedness website for ideas about what to include in an emergency kit.
The first Alert Ready test in Saskatchewan is scheduled to take place May 9 at 1:55 p.m.
On Twitter: @BryanEneas
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