Nationwide alerts could endanger domestic violence survivors
National (WIFR) - Smartphones, TVs and radios will receive an emergency alert message Wednesday, Oct. 4 to test the nation in the event of a crisis, but it could put lives in danger in a way you may not have thought.
The alert will send simultaneously at 1:20 p.m. CST, but something that has domestic abuse survivors worried, there is no way to disable the message from arriving, even through your phone’s settings.
Wireless Emergency Alerts, or WEA’s, are sent out by Government agencies to confirm that all cell phones can receive emergency warnings like earthquakes, active shooters and more. Although this is good for the majority of the US, it could prove deadly for others.
“I think there is a purpose definitely for the alerts, checking systems, notifying of missing children,” said Becky Winstead, Vice President of domestic violence services at Remedies.
No two instances of domestic violence are the same, according to Andrea Carlson, who says it can be common for domestic abuse survivors to have a hidden phone.
“Having an extra means of communication, that’s an important bridge to safety,” said Carlson, who works as the deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of Domestic and Community Violence Prevention in Rockford. “Survivors create their own individualized safety plans―having that taken away could be critical to them accessing supports and safety.”
Although phone users cannot stop the WEA message from incoming, there is a way to delay the message.
“If they decide it’s best, shut the phone down. If any safety risk occurs, they encourage people to trust their instincts, trust their gut and do what they think is safest,” said Winstead.
Experts say turning off your phone will delay the message until you next turn your phone on, which could be the difference between life or death.
“Turn off your phone, stash it somewhere else,” said Carlson. “Trust survivors, they are going to know what’s best for them.”
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