How to stop getting AMBER Alerts on my Cell Phone

What is an AMBER alert? An Amber alert occurs when a child, or adult with a proven mental or physical disability, is abducted and at risk of harm.

What is an AMBER alert? 

An Amber alert occurs when a child, or adult with a proven mental or physical disability, is abducted and at risk of harm.  These alerts are sent through our national alert system,  Alert Ready, and are broadcast through television, radio and LTE smartphones. 

The goal of an AMBER alert is to reach as many residents as possible to help local law enforcement search for and find an abducted child.  These alerts can only be activated by police agencies and are only issued for the most dangerous child abduction cases when time is of the essence.

Requirements to send AMBER alerts vary per province but basic requirements include: 

  • Child is under 18;
  • A belief that the child has been kidnapped and is in serious danger;
  • Information is available that may help locate the child and/or suspect; and
  • It must be issued within a reasonable amount of time from when the child was abducted.

AMBER alerts are critically important.  When you receive an AMBER alert you should read it carefully as important information will be included such as what the child and suspect look like, what they were wearing, vehicle descriptions and more.  If you see or hear anything that could be important to the search for the child, call the police immediately and tell the operator that you are calling about an active AMBER alert.



How do I get alerts on my phone?

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



It is important for you to realize that not all phones are compatible with Alert Ready alerts.  For more information about what phones are compatible go here

You can also look at the Alert Ready site here or here.

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, smart speaker 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.

Can I opt out of receiving AMBER alerts?

No, it is not possible to opt out of receiving alerts. Given the importance of the information provided the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) requires these alerts to be distributed to all compatible wireless devices. Because of their geo-targeted nature, if you are receiving an alert on your device you, or someone in the area, is in imminent danger. Often, but not always, these alerts will respect the settings on your phone and will not play the alert tone if your volume is turned off.  For more information about this go here 

For anyone that is very determined to not receive AMBER alerts, the Daily Hive in Toronto has published details on a way to stop getting these alerts.  While they strongly discourage this, they felt that since 9-1-1 keeps getting calls from annoyed residents about these alerts they would share this information.  You can find that information here. These steps disable the LTE option on your phone and has you using 3G which is not compatible with Alert Ready, so be aware that you will not receive any wireless alerts.

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

Read more on our Disaster Series:

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