This weekend, a bunch of Hawaiians were sent a text that probably freaked them out a tad—it warned people of a ballistic missile threat and gently reminded them (in all caps) to “SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
Due to the fact that it explicitly said it wasn’t “a drill” most people took this pretty seriously. As we all know now, this was due to a massive design error mixed with the perpetual fuck-up-machines that are humans. That said, at least Hawaiians got a courtesy text before their impending doom—other countries aren’t so lucky.
Canada is one of those unlucky nations, as not too many Canadians would be warned before they feel the warm embrace of a nuclear shockwave.
An ICBM attack on Canadian soil is not quite as far-fetched a theory as one would like, given America’s heel-turn and North Korea stepping up its game. A nuke sent from North Korea to the States would go right over Canada, so we Canucks are starting to get a little worried. In the last year, an atomic ton of articles regarding Canada getting the ol’ nuke were written, but the question remains: if, god forbid, we were—probably by mistake—targeted for a nuclear attack, how would we find out?
Well, it wouldn’t be by text, at least not yet. The first that Canadians would hear about this would be through the Alert Ready system after NORAD picked up the missile on radar. This system works primarily through radio and television and would give us about 25 minutes to get our lives in order. We’ve all seen these, they are the typically red screens that say “this is a warning” while the most grating alarm noise you’ve ever heard plays.
Since a large portion of millennials don’t have cable—nor do they tend to sit around listening to FM or AM radio—we most likely would either figure it out from a panicked text sent by a parent who does watch cable and listens to the radio. If you are one of those who don’t have people who love you (feel free to hit me up in the DMs), you most likely will see tweets or something about the incident on Facebook or will simply be vaporized in the attack.
Above: An artistic interpretation of you being vaporized.
Some Canadians can sign up for text message alerts through their province but it’s voluntary and most of us are far too lazy to do that. Currently, the way that Alert Ready works is that the government issues the type of alert—ie. tornado, Amber Alert, terrorist attack—it will then be sent to the National Alert Aggregation and Dissemination system (which is run by Pelmorex Communications) and which works as the middleman between the government and media companies. From there the media companies will choose the type of message to send out and it will finally be seen by the public who will then, most likely, start freaking the fuck out.
This will change in April of this year when the new Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) rules, which compel Canadian telecommunication companies to send text messages to their customers, comes into effect. Pretty much all of the major Canadian telecommunication companies—thanks to oligopolies, there are only a few, yay!—have signed on. The CRTC writes that the “alerts on mobile devices will warn Canadians about dangers to life and property in a timely manner so that they can take appropriate action.”
Until then though, if you don’t have TV or listen to the radio you might not find out before the bomb drops, which, thinking about it now, might be the better way to go.
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