Following the provincial government’s wireless alert tests conducted Wednesday, Nov. 25, the Regional District of East Kootenay published a release notifying residents that local emergencies, including floods and fires, are not included in provincial alerts.
Instead, the RDEK urges residents to sign up for the regional Evacuation Notification System in order to receive local emergency notifications.
“We Want people to be aware of the limitations of the Alert Ready program in B.C., which currently is only used for tsunami warnings, Amber Alerts and specific civil police emergencies,” explained Loree Duczek, RDEK communications manager. “We have long been advocating for a system that will push emergency messages out to mobile devices, but at this time this system cannot do that.”
The RDEK expressed that part of their concern goes down to the test message sent Wednesday states that wireless customers in the province will receive emergency alerts from the government for possibly life-threatening situations.
This could leave false expectations that the public will be notified for all emergencies.
“While local governments such as the RDEK hope to one day be able to access the system, we want to stress to residents that they will not be receiving text messages about local emergencies through the Alert Ready system at this time, which is why we are urging residents to sign up for the local notification system,” Duczek added.
The East Kootenay Evacuation Notification System sends messages regarding evacuation alerts and orders to mobile and home phones, in addition to its dedicated app. Users, however, need to register at least one property location in order to get the notifications.
“We strongly support having the Alert Ready system and its ability to automatically push emergency notifications to any smartphone within a defined geographic area and hope to see the Province expand the system’s scope to include other critical emergency-related messages,” Duczek said.
“In the meantime, we have a robust local option and urge all residents and property owners to register today.”
Residents can register for the East Kootenay Evacuation Notification System by visiting the Emergency Information page of www.rdek.bc.ca