New Hope Midcoast, the regional domestic violence resource center serving Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties, wants to make everyone aware of the upcoming emergency test that will sound through radio, television and cell phones Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 2:20 p.m. Eastern Time.
Implemented by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), this test is meant to ensure that emergency systems are effective in notifying the public about public national emergencies.
“Unfortunately, this important warning can also be a safety risk for those who live with an abuser,” said New Hope Midcoast, in a news release. “The Nationwide Emergency Alert Test will sound loudly and may alert abusers to hidden devices. Advocates at New Hope Midcoast know that technology is an important tool for victims of domestic abuse. We also know that technology can be misused as a means to harass, stalk, intimidate, and track victims. Victims must be able to contact friends and family, speak with an advocate, attend school and support groups, and document any threats. As part of safety planning, advocates work carefully with clients to determine if having a hidden phone or other means of contact is advisable. They consider the unique circumstances of each victim and the potential risks.”
Cell towers will broadcast the alert for 30 minutes meaning phone users may receive the test message and accompanying tone and vibration pattern at any time during that thirty-minute window. It will be heard through cell phones that are compatible with the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), within range of an active cell tower, are not on airplane mode, and are serviced by a provider that participates in WEA. A loud noise will sound and will be audible to anyone nearby. Radio and television alerts will last one minute. Victims should plan accordingly.
Some phones may allow users to turn off emergency alerts via settings. But device users cannot turn off national alerts. The best way to be sure any hidden phone will not make a sound on October 4 is to turn it off entirely or give it to a friend for safe keeping.
Safety planning at New Hope Midcoast begins with the victim’s initial contact and continues throughout client involvement with the agency.
“It is our hope that all victims know about this important safety alert that could pose additional risk for those living with an abuser,” said New Hope.
If you have concerns or questions about this, please contact an advocate through the New Hope Midcoast 24/7 helpline at 1.800.522.3304.