Residents across the NWT will receive a test emergency alert today at 1:55 p.m.
The National Public Alert System, also known as Alert Ready, will send a test alert to all provinces and territories in the country this week, with Yellowknife cell phones scheduled to buzz Wednesday afternoon.
Compatible phones will either vibrate or sound an emergency alarm for eight seconds depending on if you have your phone’s sound turned on or off. The tests are being issued to ensure residents are connected to the newly implemented system.
“We can now push alerts out any time of day,” said Kevin Brezinski, director of public safety with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA).
Brezinski says MACA will work closely with the emergency services of different municipalities to determine when an emergency is imminent and if an alert needs to be sent directly into pockets of the public.
“Say there was a fire coming close to a municipal dwelling, we would send that alert out,” said Brezinski. “We certainly wouldn’t want to alert the people of Deline if an emergency was happening in Yellowknife.”
According to the Alert Ready official website, the new measures are being implemented to better target audiences at risk, alerts were previously distributed exclusively through television and radio broadcasts. With the update, anyone on the Canadian LTE network will be able to receive notices as long as they have a compatible device.
A list of compatible devices can be found on the Alert Ready website.
Canadians will receive alerts for emergencies ranging from residential and wildland fires to terrorism-related incidents to heavy rains and floods based on where they are in the country. This means NWT residents who are travelling in different areas of the country will receive alerts directed to where they are rather than receiving alerts regarding their home community.
A spokesperson with Public Safety Canada said alerts will instruct the public on what actions to take in case of an emergency. In Yellowknife, fire and ambulance services can be reached at 873-2222 and police can be reached at 873-1111.
For those in distress on the streets, Yellowknife Community Outreach’s direct line is 867-445-7202.
According to multiple reports, tests in Quebec and Ontario failed earlier this week due to issues with coding that caused very few people to actually receive their scheduled test alerts.
Cell phones that are turned off will not receive the emergency alert.