This is a only a test: Manitoba cellphones to receive Ready Alert signal Wednesday

This is a only a test: Manitoba cellphones to receive Ready Alert signal Wednesday

Phones and tablets across Manitoba will be a ringing reminder Wednesday afternoon to always be prepared for emergencies.

This week, the CRTC has ordered cellphone providers to conduct a test of the Ready Alert system. Cellphones and tablets across the nation will buzz with the test, with Manitoba’s alert to be sent out Wednesday at 1:55 p.m.

The system is being implemented to distribute warnings of imminent safety threats such as tornadoes, floods, Amber Alerts or terrorist threats. Radio and TV stations will also run the tests.

In Manitoba, only the Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization and Environment and Climate Change Canada are allowed to issue Alert Ready messages, said Ron Schuler, minister responsible for emergency preparedness.

“So your iPhone, your Samsung, whatever it is you use, will have a message on it at 1:55 p.m.,” said Schuler, adding the province has procedures in place to avoid an incident like the one in Hawaii where people were falsely warned about an incoming missle. 

“We want the public to know this is a test. Be ready for it.”

During an unusually dry spring when most citizens are more concerned about brush fires than flooding, the province launched an awareness campaign Monday titled “Be emergency ready.” 

“Only days ago, municipal and provincial crews were fighting wind-driven wildfires, the forest fire season is actually yet to come and already we’ve seen some difficulties in the province,” said Schuler.

Several brush and grass fires sparked around the city over the weekend, including one where two men were found dead and another that ran for kilometres along a rail line, threatening a seniors’ retirement complex and businesses.

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Outside the city, grass and bush fires have levelled homes and resulted in burn bans throughout most of southern Manitoba, including the City of Winnipeg. 

The most common threats in Manitoba include floods, severe storms, tornados, wildfires, blizzards, power outages and chemical spills, Schuler said. 

The campaign asks Manitobans to prepare for emergencies, to stay informed and to “mitigate the potential negative impacts.”

National Emergency Preparedness Week runs this year until May 12.

Some tips to be ready in an emergency, courtesy the federal government’s emergency preparedness website, Get Prepared, include having:

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