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Canada is testing its emergency alert systems. When will yours happen?

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National public alerting system for emergencies in progress, Blair says
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National tests for Canada’s emergency alert system were sent out to personal devices across the country Wednesday.

The national public alerting system, called Alert Ready, aims to ensure Canadians know when to take action for safety in case of an emergency.

“Alert Ready delivers critical and potentially life-saving alerts to Canadians through television, radio and LTE-connected and compatible wireless devices,” the system’s website says.

The system allows government agencies to warn the public about events that are considered life-threatening, such as natural disasters, wildfires, explosives, air quality, national security and more.

Natural disasters is currently the category with the most alert types, including tornadoes, flash floods, hurricanes and landslides.

Alerts were sent to Canadians on Wednesday at varying times across the country, depending on region. There were no tests in Alberta or Northwest Territories.

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In July, an emergency alert warning people to stay home during flooding in Nova Scotia took close to two hours to send, say firefighters who responded to the disaster as bridges fell and roads crumbled.

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Joanna Eyquem, managing director of climate-resilient infrastructure at University of Waterloo’s Intact Centre, who specializes in climate adaptation, said a two-hour timeframe appears to be too long during a major flooding emergency.

How does it work?

During tests, Canadians can expect to hear a testing sound which will simulate an emergency alert, known as the Canadian Alert Attention Signal.

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The tone prompts a message that will indicate that it is a test. No action is required.

Tests are conducted twice a year during Emergency Preparedness Week in May and the third week of November. Canadians do not have an option to opt out of the test or actual alerts.

Alternate formats of the alert may be issued for those who are deaf, hard of hearing, partially sighted or blind.

The system’s website notes that such individuals should contact their wireless provider if they have trouble accessing an alert method.

Those who would like to check their device compatibility prior to a test date can do so by contacting their wireless carrier or by visiting alertready.ca.

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