Yesterday, a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in Alaska triggered a tsunami warning in the middle of the night for those along the British Columbia coast, including numerous communities on Vancouver Island.
Despite warnings on radio, many residents were asleep during notifications, even during the text and phone notifications sent out in Sidney, North Saanich and Victoria. These alerting systems only send out notifications if users register for them, as they are not wireless based.
City of Victoria Emergency Program Coordinator Tanya Patterson, told CHEK “We sent it out to specific neighbourhoods that were in the tsunami inundation zone so just the coastal areas. We didn’t send it to all areas of Victoria if some people are wondering why they didn’t get the alert.”
With many iOS users enabling Do Not Disturb during bedtime hours, emergency text messages are silenced by default. Most residents woke up to text alert warnings–from concerned friends and relatives instead.
Add in "what's app messages" from Brazil to your collection of notification practices! We are hosting a student from Brazil and I actually first heard about all the activity from his mom IN BRAZIL who sent me a very concerned text!
— wendy swan (@WSwanVictoria) January 23, 2018
But that is changing, as Emergency Management BC Executive Director Chris Duffy said “We will be moving to a wireless public alerting system later this year and of course that will take some time to test and roll out as the alert ready tool did.”
The Alert Ready system will be up and running in April 2018, as the CRTC will require all cell providers to allow LTE push alerts to be sent out to devices in geographic areas of danger. But there are some downsides, as it will only work with phones capable of LTE wireless signals and in rural or remote areas with no signal, the system won’t function.
Officials in Victoria noted close to 35,000 people have signed up to Vic-Alerts, as of yesterday morning, after originally only having 6,400 registered prior to the tsunami warning.
In the meantime, here are links to sign up for text and phone alerts for those in Greater Victoria and other island residents:
- Sidney EMS
- North Saanich EMS
- Central Saanich ENS
- District of Highlands Alerts
- Metchosin Emergency Notification List
- Juan de Fuca Public Alert System
- Salt Spring Island Public Alert System
- Southern Gulf Islands Public Alerts
- Piers Island
There is one way to bypass Do Not Disturb in iOS on your iPhone, so you will get alerted no matter what from any contact. It’s somewhat hard to find but it is possible, so share it with your friends and family.
Just launch Contacts and select the person or number, then tap ‘Edit’. Scroll down to Ringtone, tap it, then toggle ‘Emergency Bypass’ to ON. This will allow “sounds and vibrations” even when DND is on.
For those living along the B.C. coastline, this latest tsunami warning event is a good reminder to ensure you have emergency supplies at home.