February 26, 2019 6:25 pm

Waterloo regional alert system to launch Friday

The Waterloo region will implement its own regional alert system beginning March 1.

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A new alert system will be launching for residents across the Waterloo region on Friday.

Alert Waterloo Region (AlertWR) allows residents to receive notifications by email, home phone, cellphone and text message in the event of major emergencies such as floods, tornadoes or chemical releases.

“These are really emergencies that are life-threatening so we are focusing on public safety,” explained Sandy van Solm, manager of emergency management for the Region of Waterloo.

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The new service has been tested in Woolwich this month and will be rolled out across the region on March 1.

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“We have been doing a test in the township of Woolwich, since the township already had an emergency notification system and people already have signed up there, and it was successful,” van Solm said.

She said a test alert is scheduled for Thursday so residents who live in the area and have signed up for the alerts should receive their first glimpse of the new system then.

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The system is not designed to replace the national alert system, but rather to help keep the public safe at a local level. There is a chance that residents could receive messages from both systems.

The region has teamed up with local municipal governments, Waterloo Regional Police and area hydro companies in developing AlertWR.

Van Solm said a process has been established to determine whether the national or regional alert system will notify local residents.

“It’s a (geographic information)-based system so we can really point down to neighbourhood level where we want to send (an alert) out,” she explained.

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The region is encouraging people to sign up for the service at alertwr.ca.

Van Solm also pointed out that people need to be prepared in case they ever receive an alert.

“Have your family emergency kit ready,” she said.

Full details on how to prepare an emergency kit can be found on the website.

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