If an alert is broadcast, it's time to act
Alert Ready is designed to deliver critical and potentially life-saving alerts to Canadians through television and radio. The Alert Ready system is developed in partnership with federal, provincial and territorial emergency management officials, Environment Canada and the broadcast industry to ensure you receive alerts immediately and know when to take action to keep yourself and your family safe.
What types of alerts are broadcast?
Government officials developed a specific list of the types of alerts that are considered a threat to life and should be "broadcast immediately." Below is a complete list and description of these alerts.
- Fire +
A wild fire involves natural combustibles (including grass, brush and trees).
An industrial fire is a large fire in an industrial building or complex that poses a threat to human health.
An urban fire threatens multiple residential and/or commercial properties.
A wildfire or prescribed fire that is burning in forested areas, grass or alpine/tundra vegetation and poses a threat to human safety.
- Natural +
A storm surge is abnormal rise in sea level accompanying an intense storm or hurricane that poses a threat to coastal areas.
Often occurring from river ice jams and excessive unexpected rainfall, a flash flood is the sudden onset of water causing immediate flooding. This event presents a unique danger to life and safety as there is little or no warning that this event will occur.
An overflowing or failing of a dam or reservoir that threatens areas downstream is a dam overflow. An alert is issued only in the case of imminent flooding.
An earthquake is a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves that can cause substantial damage, especially in urban environments.
A magnetic storm is a worldwide disturbance of the Earth's magnetic field that can disable electronic devices and infrastructure.
The general term for a wide variety of processes and landforms involving the down slope movement under the force of gravity of masses of soil and rock material, a landslide can threaten communities and infrastructure located in its path.
A natural object of extraterrestrial origin (meteoroid) that passes through the atmosphere and hits the ground.
A tsunami is a gravitational sea wave produced by a large-scale, short-duration disturbance of the ocean floor.
Lahar is a flowing mixture of water-saturated rock debris that forms on the slopes of a volcano. Moving down slope under the force of gravity, lahar can threaten communities situated near the volcano.
A pyroclastic flow is a high density flow of solid volcanic fragments suspended in gas that flows down slope from a volcanic vent and can threaten communities situated near the volcanos.
A pyroclastic surge is a turbulent, low-density cloud of hot rock debris and gases that are ejected during a volcanic eruption that moves over the ground surface at a high speed.
Volcanic ash is comprised of dust or particles emitted by a volcano during a eruption. Volcanic ash may remain suspended in the atmosphere for a long period of time.
A hurricane is violent storm comprised of intense winds and, heavy rain, potentially causing a storm surge, floods, coastal erosion or landslides.
A tornado is a vortex of a violently rotating winds, often forming a funnel shaped cloud that is capable of damaging property and injuring people.
A thunder storm is a storm of heavy rain accompanied by thunder and lightning that poses a threat to persons.
- Biological +
If misused or improperly released, a chemical substance could result in serious injury.
A potentially dangerous and poisonous, a biological substance is usually very unstable and can easily be transferred.
In sufficient concentration, a radiological substance can damage the environment or human health.
Drinking Water Contamination
Contamination of drinking water is when water quality is negatively affected and a boil-water advisory may be raised, cautioning use by the public.
- Hazardous Materials +
Explosive material including an explosive device is a potentially dangerous substance, that can produce an explosion if released suddenly.
- Environmental +
A decrease in air quality is caused by an elevated particulate count in the atmosphere that can negatively affect visibility or the health of individuals.
A natural, human-made material that is descending by force of gravity and can pose a threat to persons or property
- Terrorist Hazard +
A terrorist threat is a declaration of intent by individuals or groups to commit a violent act against civilians or infrastructure.
- Civil +
A civil emergency occurs when humans cause a disruption of services or require varying levels of support, law enforcement or attention.
Animal danger is when a wild or domesticated animal poses a threat to human life or property.
An Amber Alert is issued by police services when a child has been abducted and it is believed that his/her life is in grave danger. An Amber Alert provides the public with immediate and up-to-date information about the abduction and solicits the public's help in the safe and swift return of the child.
A 911 service alert happens when there is a disruption or outage of telecommunication services between the public and emergency responders.
- Administrative +
A test message may be issued for either public awareness or technical testing purposes.
What does an alert sound like?
How to Prepare for an Emergency
Disaster can strike with little to no notice, that's why the best way to be ready for any emergency is to have a plan. Here are some useful videos to help you and your family make a plan, so you have one when you need it. Public Safety Canada offers a resource to help you plan. www.getprepared.gc.ca
To learn more about how emergency alerts are broadcast in your region and other resources please select your province or territory below.
Alerts on The Weather Network
As part of its regulatory commitments, The Weather Network provides government-issued weather warnings and public safety alerts on its television service as well as all of its other products and services. The Weather Network keeps you aware of weather and safety concerns so that you can take the appropriate precautions to protect yourself, your family and your property.
To see current weather alerts in your region please visit:
You can sign up to receive Public Safety Alerts directly to your mobile device by subscribing with The Weather Network here.
Alert Ready is a system that allows Canadian government officials at the federal, provincial and municipal level to issue all types of public safety messages. Media companies, including television, radio stations & websites access the alerts and relay them to their consumers.
The Alert Ready system allows officials at each level of government to issue a wide range of public safety messages. The scope can cover events such as tornadoes, train derailments, industrial fires, water contamination and missing persons as well as informational alerts such as frost warnings. The list is not limited to weather or environmental warnings. For a full list, click here.
There are specific alerts that are to be immediately broadcasted to consumers by all broadcasters and media companies. Broadcast immediately alerts are those that pose an imminent threat to life or property. These alerts have the highest level of severity, urgency and certainty.
It is at the discretion of each of the broadcasters and media companies to choose to make available other alerts that may be of interest to their consumers.
Each provincial or territorial government will decide who will have the authority to issue alerts. For example, alerts could be issued by provincial or municipal emergency management offices or by local police or fire departments.
Federally, Environment Canada uses the Alert Ready system to distribute weather warnings, watches and alerts.
The amount and type of alerts are expected to vary from province to province. Broadcast immediately alerts are expected to be infrequent.
As of March 31, 2015 cable and satellite companies, radio stations, over-the-air television stations and video-on-demand services in Canada are required to broadcast or distribute alerts that represent a threat to life or property.
Campus, community and native radio and television broadcasters as well as radio communication distributors will have an additional year to begin broadcasting alerts.
The alerting authority will determine what areas are affected by an incident, weather or environmental situation. They will use a standard system that will typically correspond with census divisions and sub-divisions that are usually along municipal boundaries. The standardized system will allow participating radio, television, cable and satellite companies to broadcast the alerts that are most relevant to the communities they serve.
It is possible for multiple alert messages to be issued for the same event because the event is being managed by different government levels or departments.
However, emergency management officials are experts in their fields and coordinate activities, including public alerting very closely and will be monitoring alerts issued by neighbouring jurisdictions.
Alerting authorities must set a time when they expect the alert to expire. In addition they may cancel or update an alert anytime they wish if the situation has changed or is considered "all-clear." Radio, television, cable and satellite companies have the option to notify the public when an alert is no longer in effect based on this information.
It is important to note that the expiry date and time indicates when an alert expires, but does not necessarily indicate when an emergency is over. It indicates when the alert expires. Because each alert issued requires that an expiry date and time be included, alerting authorities estimate when they think the alert will need to be updated or cancelled. The expiry date and time information is not included when played on television or radio, but might be listed if the alert is communicated through other mediums, such as websites and email.
An alert begins with the alerting attention signal interrupting scheduled program audio, followed by the alert presented as a full screen or a crawler section at the bottom of the screen.
An alert begins with the alerting attention signal interrupting current programming followed by a description of the potential threat.
The exact manner in which alerts will be broadcast is left to the discretion of the local television broadcaster, cable or satellite distributor. A crawl across the top or bottom of the screen or a full-page display is expected for most alerts.
The operators of the Alert Ready system and government officials at all levels take security very seriously.
In addition to the security measures that government agencies take every day to ensure access to their system is by authorized personnel only, additional passwords and user identification is needed for users of the Alert Ready system. Separately, Pelmorex Media, the operator of the Alert Ready system, has additional measures in place to prevent unauthorized access.
Finally, each individual message issued using the Alert Ready system will have a unique digital certificate to ensure its authenticity.
Government authorities can include an audio file version of the text portion of the alert message. If this is not provided, broadcasters may use text-to-speech software to create an audio version of the message. The guidelines for common look and feel can be found here: http://www.capan.ca/npas.
Alerts will be sent out as per the official language requirements of each jurisdiction or agency. At the discretion of the issuing government authority, alerts can made available in additional languages. Distribution of alerts in additional languages will be up to the individual television, radio, cable or satellite operator.
Distribution of alert messages to the public by radio and TV stations, cable and satellite operators is mandatory as of March 31, 2015. It is also expected that "value-added" services like subscription text messages or email services will be developed by each media company.
For example, you can sign up to receive Public Safety Alerts directly to your mobile device by subscribing with The Weather Network or downloading the weather app on your smartphone or tablet.
Government officials may include references within their alert to obtain additional information. As well, it is expected that some television and radio broadcasters will cover events from a news perspective, if there is loss of life or damage to property.
The Alert Ready system is operated by Pelmorex Media Inc. which is the parent company that owns and operates The Weather Network and MétéoMédia.
If you hear this on your television or radio station, pay attention and take action as needed.
At this time Alert Ready alerts are not automatically broadcast directly by wireless carriers. However, some companies and government agencies do provide text messaging or mobile apps on a subscription basis that support the delivery of alerts.
Thank you to the members of the broadcast industry for supporting the Alert Ready campaign.
- Acadia Broadcasting
- Bell Media
- Bayshore Broadcasting
- Blackburn Radio
- Blue Ant Media
- Cab-K Broadcasting
- CBC/Radio- Canada
- CHCH Television
- Cogeco Cable
- Dougall Media
- Evanov Media
- Golden West Radio
- Leclec Communication
- Lynx Media
- Mitchell-Seaforth Cable Group
- MTS Cable
- MyAccess Cable
- Newcap Radio
- Novus Radio
- Pattison Media
- Rawlco Radio
- Rogers Media
- Shaw Media
- Vista Radio
- YES TV
For any inquiries about Alert Ready please contact:
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