I was in a store in Owen Sound last week, checking out a present for grandchildren, when suddenly there was a very loud alarm which seemed to be coming right from my wheelchair! I looked around, but nothing seemed to be happening, and no-one was hurrying to rescue me. The sound only lasted about 30 seconds and it was over.
There I was, wondering what in the world is going on, but nothing seemed to be amiss. Then I recalled that I always carry my cellphone in a side pocket. Pulling it out I found a text message that said something about a test of the national alerting system. The alarm had come from my cellphone, not my wheelchair.
Later on I was able to look this up, and I found that Canada has been developing a national alerting system known as 'Alert Ready' for several years. Spearheaded originally by the Weather Network (thinking about tornadoes), the ideas has attracted a significant number of government agencies who have co-operated to launch the system. It will cover every emergency you can think of, from tornadoes to Amber Alerts for missing children.
There are a host of technical issues to be solved to make this work on a national scale, but you may already be seeing such alerts occasionally on your TV. The alarm I heard was the national test for mobile devices like cellphones.
So if you suddenly hear a loud alarm coming from your pocket or purse, pay attention!