How to get Emergency Alerts on your Phone

People living or travelling in Canada can get emergency alerts, including severe weather alerts, on their cell phones. For some emergencies, these alerts are received automatically for those in the affected area with a compatible smartphone. Alertable is also connected to Canada’s public emergency alerting system, Alert Ready.  This is the same system emergency managers use to issue wireless emergency alerts, as well as alerts that appear on TV and radio.  Alerts issued from Alert Ready for your area will also automatically come through Alertable.

 In Canada all wireless service providers are required to broadcast critical, life-threatening emergency alerts to compatible smartphones. You do not need to sign up for the service or opt-in, you actually can not opt-out.  While this may have caused some annoyance for some residents in Alberta and Ontario, most recognize this as essential.

It is important to recognize that not all devices are capable of receiving an alert. For your cell phone to receive a wireless emergency alert, it must:

  • Be capable of connecting to an LTE network (LTE is commonly referred to as “4G LTE”)
  • Have a very recent version of its operating software
  • Be connected to an LTE cellular network at the time the emergency alert is issued or while the alert is still active

This means that not everyone will get wireless emergency alerts sent by cell phone carriers. If your cell phone is not compatible you still have options for receiving alerts on your phone. One way to ensure you get emergency alerts on your cell phone is to download the Alertable app. Alertable also has several other options to choose from for receiving alerts on a device. This includes a website, FaceBook, Twitter, Slack, FaceBook Messenger, and in some cases text, email and phone call.  The last three options (text, email and phone) are only available if your municipality has registered to send alerts through Alertable.  Even if your municipality has not signed up, all alerts through Alert Ready and any severe weather alerts come through automatically.   

There are a number of reasons that Alertable is a great companion to wireless emergency alerts in Canada including: 

  • If your smartphone is not compatible with wireless emergency alerts from your cellular provider
  • If your smartphone is often only connected to wifi
  • If you want to receive alerts on other devices, like a tablet
  • If you are travelling and away from home or work when and emergency strikes 
  • If you have family, friends or property in a other locations and want be be alerted for emergencies there
  • If you want to receive alerts for more types of emergencies, including less severe weather advisories (types of alerts can be selected in the settings)
  • If you want additional information about alerts, Alertable provides more details than can be sent in a wireless emergency alert from your cellular provider
  • If you want alerts for whatever location within Canada that you happen to be in

Even if you have a smartphone that is compatible with the new wireless public alert (WPA) technology, you can still download the Alertable app. The app will provide additional information such as a map of the affected area, instructions on how to remain safe, and updates on the overall situation. These updates won’t necessarily be issued as wireless public alerts. Once you receive a wireless public alert message, you can use the Alertable app to get more information and be automatically updated as the emergency unfolds.

 

Read about what to do if your smartphone is not compatible with emergency alerts here

Read more about what devices are compatible with the Alert Ready system and get other other Alert Ready questions answered here

What are other tips we could talk about? Leave a comment below and let us know.

To read our Disaster Series click on the following links:

What to do Before, During and After an Earthquake

Disaster Fatigue and COVID-19

Floods: How to prepare and respond

Storm Season: Tornadoes

How do you Prepare for an Emergency Evacuation?

Air Quality and Forest Fires

To sign up for Alertable or to learn more visit https://alertable.ca

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