AS part of Emergency Preparedness Week, a nationwide test of Canada’s emergency alerting system will take place at 1:55 p.m. (Pacific time) on Wednesday, May 10.
The alert will go to all compatible cellphones, as well as interrupt radio and television broadcasts.
“With the spring hazard season now upon us, we’re reminded of just how important it is for all of us – the Province, communities and people across British Columbia – to be prepared for the unexpected,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness.
“During Emergency Preparedness Week, we encourage everyone to get prepared by taking a few simple steps, such as creating a grab-and-go bag and making an emergency plan. By taking these steps now, we can all help ensure that our families and communities are ready in the event of an emergency.”
With natural and climate-related disasters becoming more frequent and destructive, everyone in B.C. is encouraged to get prepared for potential emergencies as part of Emergency Preparedness Week.
During the test of the emergency alerting system, an alert will be broadcast on radio and TV stations, as well as to compatible cellphones. The message will read: “This is a TEST of the BC Emergency Alert system. This is ONLY a TEST. In an emergency, this message would provide safety information that could save your life. Click for more info: www.emergencyinfobc.ca/alert. Again, this is ONLY a TEST. No action is required.”
In 2022, the Province expanded the use of the National Public Alerting system beyond tsunami warnings to include imminent threats from floods, wildfires and extreme heat emergencies. Police issue alerts for civil emergencies and Amber Alerts.
In addition to expanding public alerting, the Province has taken several steps to enhance preparedness measures throughout B.C., including improving Emergency Support Services (ESS) so people can get the support they need faster and more easily. In 2022, the Province launched pre-registration for ESS and the ability to provide support to evacuees through Interac e-Transfer.
The Province is also supporting local emergency preparedness and mitigation. In February 2023, the Province committed $180 million to the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF), bringing the total to $369 million since the fund was established in 2017. More than $113 million has been approved for First Nations and local governments through CEPF for approximately 1,400 projects that help communities mitigate and prepare for disasters and climate-related emergencies.
The Province is making strides in tsunami and earthquake preparedness by partnering with the Capital Regional District to launch the Capital Region Tsunami Information Portal, which shows people if they are living or working in or visiting a tsunami-hazard zone.
In January 2023, the Province announced the installation of as many as 50 earthquake early-warning sensors in high seismic-risk areas throughout British Columbia. The sensors will connect to the Earthquake Early Warning system network that will be operational in spring 2024.
In response to the growing number of climate-related emergencies in B.C., the Province also launched ClimateReadyBC, which provides hazard and mapping tools, risk data and resources to help communities better prepare for future disasters and climate emergencies.
The Province works with First Nations and local authorities in preparation for hazards throughout the year and is ready to support communities 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Emergency Preparedness Week serves as an annual reminder for people to take three steps to be better prepared for an emergency:
Know the hazards
Hazards vary from region to region, and knowing which ones are most likely to happen in your community can help you be better prepared, navigate disruptions when they occur and get back to your life and work sooner. Hazards may include wildfires, flooding, earthquakes, tsunamis, extreme heat and storms.
Make a plan
An emergency plan is your guidebook on how you and the people you live with will respond more calmly in the event of an emergency. Knowing what to do will reduce anxiety and help keep you focused and safe. Determine the best ways to evacuate your home in case of an emergency, establish a meeting place for you and your family, develop a communication plan and establish emergency contacts.
Get an emergency kit
Following an emergency, you may need to stay at home with an emergency kit or leave immediately with a grab-and-go bag. Pack enough supplies, including food and water to last as long as two weeks. An emergency kit should also include essentials, such as a first-aid kit, personal medication and important documents, such as insurance papers and birth certificates. Store them in an area of your home that is easy to get to, such as a hall closet, spare room or garage. It is a good idea to make grab-and-go bags for your home, workplace and vehicle.
For tips about how to prepare an emergency plan and what to include in an emergency kit and grab-and-go bag, visit: http://www.preparedbc.ca
Follow PreparedBC on:
For information during active provincial emergencies, visit EmergencyInfoBC: https://www.emergencyinfobc.
Follow EmergencyInfoBC on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/
Facts about emergency alerts in B.C.
The emergency alert test is designed to assess the system’s readiness for an actual emergency and identify any adjustments that might need to be made.
* The National Public Alerting System is a collaborative initiative between federal, provincial and territorial governments, as well as industry partners.
* It provides a standard alerting capability to rapidly warn the public of imminent or unfolding hazards to life safety.
* To receive alerts, cellphones must be connected to an LTE cellular network (the device must be turned on and cannot be set to do not disturb or airplane mode), be alert-compatible, be within the alert area and have up-to-date cellular software.
* Emergency alerts are broadcast automatically at no cost to the user.
* Following a 2014 Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) decision, all radio and TV broadcasters in Canada are mandated to broadcast public emergency alerts.
* On April 6, 2017, the CRTC mandated that wireless service providers be capable of sending wireless public alerts in Canada by April 6, 2018.
* British Columbians may want to participate in a short online survey following the test to help determine the reach of the test. The survey is administered by Public Emergency Alerting Services Inc.: https://peasi.com/emergency-
* The emergency alert system was launched in B.C. on April 6, 2018, and is tested twice a year in spring and fall.