3 Ways to Make Sure You're Alerted During an Emergency

The 7.9 earthquake in Alaska and accompanying tsunami warning for the west coast of British Columbia on January 23, 2018 not only sent thousands of families to higher ground for safety but also served as a test of our emergency notification systems.

Alarms were sound in many coastal communities such as Tofino on Vancouver Island, while in  other communities like Esquimalt in Greater Victoria, Fire Department and Police services went door-to-door to alert residents to evacuate.

Automatic text message and phone call alerts were also delivered to those who were already subscribed to their community’s emergency notification system, lighting up phones on bedside tables across the west coast.

While local governments and emergency management organizations are always assessing how to improve emergency notification systems, it’s also important for individuals and families to take steps to make sure they’re alerted and informed when disaster strikes.



Subscribe to emergency text/SMS and phone notifications


Many of the emergency notification systems used by local governments will not text/SMS or phone you unless you ‘opt-in’ ahead of time.  Be sure to visit the website of your local government and subscribe to receive their emergency notifications.  Some systems will send a confirmation text message to your device with further instructions.  You may need to reply to those confirmation messages to complete the subscribe process.

If you’re having any trouble subscribing to these notifications, please contact your local Tom Harris Cellular store for assistance.



Check your phone’s notification settings


To avoid email and Facebook notifications throughout the right, many people turn their phone off or enable ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode before they go to bed.  While this might help you have an uninterrupted sleep, it means that you will likely not hear your phone when an emergency notification is received.

Many devices allow you to customize your notification settings for each app.  For example, you could set up your device to silence all notifications except text and phone or even limit how frequently you receive notifications.

Some devices, like the iPhone, feature a ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode that allows you to silence all notifications except from pre-specified numbers.  Unfortunately, many of the emergency notification systems used by local governments send their notifications from different phone numbers so making it difficult to add each number to your pre-specified list.

Please contact your local Tom Harris Cellular store for help with customizing your device’s notifications.



Keep your device’s battery charged throughout the night


While it’s debatable that having your phone plugged in all night has an impact on your overall battery life, the only way to ensure your device has a full charge in case of an emergency is to plug in before bed.  If your phone’s battery has died during an emergency, you’re not only going to miss the emergency notification to take action but you could be left with a dead device when you need it most.

We recommend plugging your device in before bed every night and keeping a spare power charger in your emergency kit.  This is another way you can ensure that you’re alerted and informed during an emergency.


Do you have a tech tip for keeping safe and informed during an emergency?  Let us know in the comments below!