KSNF/KODE — October is Domestic Abuse Awareness Month and coincidentally, it is a crucial time for individuals in unsafe situations to familiarize themselves with the procedure for handling the upcoming nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System.
Domestic Violence & The Need For Secrecy
No two instances of domestic violence are the same and often are very complex due to the nature of abusive relationships. Leaving an unsafe situation can be even more complicated and risky. Those in unsafe situations are often advised to keep a hidden secondary cellphone close by that their abusers are unaware of and cannot control for several reasons: documenting abuse, plans for escape, a way to contact emergency services or safe places, and to safeguard privacy.
The upcoming nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System could potentially put these victims at risk of being discovered.
What will the nationwide test do?
The test, conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is to ensure that the country’s mass communication technology is working properly.
The test will consist of two parts: One will be a text sent to all wireless consumer cellphones in the U.S. within range of an active cell tower, informing them of the test alert. The alerts will make a unique sound and vibrate, similar to that of Amber Alerts and Imminent Threat alerts such as Tornado Warnings.
The other part of the test will target radios and televisions. In the event of a disaster, the President will be able to address the public within ten minutes through mass communication.
Both tests are scheduled to begin on Wednesday, October 4, within 30 minutes of the following times:
- 11:20 a.m. Pacific Time
- 12:20 p.m. Mountain Time
- 1:20 p.m. Central Time
- 2:20 p.m. Eastern Time
To search what time zone your location falls in, you can follow this link here.
For more information on the FEMA alerts you can follow this link here.
How could this potentially put domestic violence victims at risk?
The noise and vibration of the alert could disclose the location of a hidden device even if it is on silent mode. Should an abuser be alerted and find the hidden device, it could compromise any safety plans a victim has in place, escalate violence, or open the victim up to retaliation and stress from the abuser.
How to avoid receiving these alerts
Though some emergency alerts, like Amber Alerts and Imminent Danger Alerts, can be turned off on most smart devices – National Alerts cannot be turned off according to the Warning, Alert, and Response Network. Smart phones, smart watches, and prepaid/pay-as-you-go devices will need to be powered off and the battery removed (if possible) to avoid getting these alerts. Users should be aware, that devices could possibly receive the alert once the device is powered back on.
Those with second devices for safety reasons should also consider turning off other emergency alert notifications. For information on how to do that, you can follow this link here for Apple users, and this link here for Android users.