Flames attack the hillside in Bonney Lake on Sept. 8, 2020. (East Pierce Fire & Rescue photo)

Flames attack the hillside in Bonney Lake on Sept. 8, 2020. (East Pierce Fire & Rescue photo)

Town needs to stop using Emergency Alert system for dump notices

Over-use of emergency alerts will cause people to not pay attention, Deb fears

I am all for an Emergency Broadcast System. They are extremely important, and when I hear the “tone” on my phone, I pay attention.

With the exception of the tests they do checking the system nationally, it rarely goes off. In the last couple of months, though, the Town of Smithers has been using the system,as an “informational alert” about the transfer station and/or recycling depot.

While I understand people need to know if the places are closed, it should not be blared out on the emergency station as an alert.

What that is doing is de-sensitizing people to an actual emergency alert. If the Town keeps doing this, people will stop paying attention, which could be tragic if there is an emergency.

The Town needs to find another system of informing the public about things they deem important. Maybe a different “tone” for an informational alert?

The towns, cities and municipalities all across Canada have worked hard to only use the designated “emergency alert tones” and broadcasts for the utmost of important notices.

When I was at the radio station, there was an entire list of criteria that had to be met before an Amber Alert could be issued for a missing child, or one in imminent danger. It could not be used otherwise.

When people hear the alert tones, therefore, they know there is trouble.

Smithers Fire Rescue and Emergency Services are working hard along with the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN), to make residents aware of evacuation routes and be prepared as families and neighbourhoods for disasters, fires, floods, etc.,

We just went through Emergency Preparedness Week, and the Town published supply checklists for emergencies and information about talking to children about being prepared, not scared.

They gave links to emergency preparedness guides, Emergency Management BC and on everything from sandbagging tip sheets to earthquake preparation.

But then they go and blow off the emergency alert for the dump. Sorry, but if you want us to pay attention, cut that out!

Being prepared for an emergency is no joke. The RDBN has a whole emergency information page about understanding the risks in your area, having a plan made in case the worst happens, and then having important things (documents, medications, etc.,) prepared in the event you have to move out quickly.

People outside and within our community work hundreds of hours to make these plans, practice, hold meetings, publish guides and all for our knowledge and safety.

There is a campaign to “know your zone” for evacuating Smithers, that will be providing information door to door and at the Farmer’s Market every week. The other day, I received in the mail a brochure from the RDBN on a neighbourhood meeting for everyone in my area to have a plan, get contact numbers, anything we need to be prepared in case of the worst happening.

I appreciate all of the efforts from the many volunteers and people it takes to prepare ahead, because trying to react on the fly, so to speak, can end up being a huge cluster screw-up, and can have tragic consequences.

Wildfire and flood season are both running right now, so we would be naive to think “it can’t happen here,” because we have been lucky so far. Pay attention, get prepared now. Talk to your family, in case you get separated. Don’t leave this to last minute and be sorry.

And most important, stop using the Emergency Broadcast System for anything other than emergencies.

 

A commercial truck headed through a flooded section of 208th Street near 102B Avenue north of Walnut Grove on Wednesday morning. Rain had stopped but multiple roads were still closed or partly flooded. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

A commercial truck headed through a flooded section of 208th Street near 102B Avenue north of Walnut Grove on Wednesday morning. Rain had stopped but multiple roads were still closed or partly flooded. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

A July 1, 2021 photo shows property damaged by record-high flooding on the Taku River after warm weather caused a build-up of ice melt. (Courtesy photo / Kathleen Samalon)

A July 1, 2021 photo shows property damaged by record-high flooding on the Taku River after warm weather caused a build-up of ice melt. (Courtesy photo / Kathleen Samalon)