Nfld. & Labrador

Prepare for the blare: Emergency alert test planned for Wednesday

Brace yourself: an emergency alert test is coming to a cellphone, TV and radio near you on Wednesday.

Shrill alarm has accompanied alerts in the past

Steel yourself for a shrill alarm Wednesday morning, but don't panic: it's just a test. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Brace yourself: an emergency alert test is coming to a cellphone, radio and TV near you on Wednesday.

Newfoundland and Labrador officials will issue one text message at 10:55 a.m. NT through Alert Ready, which operates the country's national emergency alert system. A shrill alarm has accompanied the alert in the past.

A release from the Department of Public Safety on Tuesday says that message will air over "television, radio and to compatible wireless devices." 

The system enables government and authorities to warn the public of imminent danger or "unfolding threats to life," the department said.

Past tests have been less than perfect, marred by technical errors. The system's first deployment in this province, in January, was also criticized for a long delay, but the province recently said it made changes to who's able to approve and send the alert. 

Former municipal affairs minister Derrick Bragg told CBC in May that prior to changes made this year, only one person in the department had the authority to send alerts.

"We've trained everyone in our office or [are] in the process of training everyone in our office on issuing an alert. It's not dependent on one person anymore," he said at the time, noting 80 per cent of workers in the department had been trained.

Police used the emergency alert system in January to issue an Amber Alert after a boy was allegedly abducted in the Corner Brook area. Since then, it's been used within Newfoundland and Labrador to inform the public about COVID-19 restrictions.

Tuesday's release notes the alert may not reach all cellphones. 

"This may occur for a variety of reasons, including device compatibility, connection to an LTE network, cell tower coverage, device software and settings," it said.

Most provinces and territories have also scheduled a test on Wednesday.

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