National test alert raises concerns for domestic violence advocates
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - For 30 minutes Wednesday afternoon, FEMA and the FCC will test 2 major national communication systems.
The Emergency Alert System (EAS), which goes to your cable TV or radio, and the Wireless Emergency Alert System (WEA). WEA was initially alerted to people who opted for the national alert test messages. Now, it’s being tested on all cell phones.
The message will only be on your phone for about a minute, around 2:20 p.m. Wednesday, and you’ll only get it once. No matter when you get the test alert, the phone will have a unique tone and vibration pattern blaring.
Although necessary, this alert raises alarms for domestic violence advocates, who say this emergency message may be dangerous for victims.
The shelter case manager at Safe Harbor, Lily Miller, said it’s common for a victim of abuse to have a second phone they hide.
“It’s definitely a concern for us thinking about survivors, especially that are still living with their abusers,” said Lily Miller, the shelter case manager at Safe Harbor.
When this alert goes off, she says it could expose the additional device and escalate a dangerous situation.
“The best course would probably be coming up with a plan with how you would address it with the abuser if the phone was found,” Miller said.
Miller also said the easiest thing to do is to turn that phone off and keep it off during the time of testing. If that safe line of communication is discovered, you can be a step ahead.
“Call your advocates, go over your safety plan, talk about worst-case scenarios. Have a backup plan,” said Victoria Barahona, the director of shelter and community operations at Safe Harbor.
You can call the Safe Harbor Hotline at 804-500-2755 if you’re in need. Here is a list of other local advocacy groups you can also reach out to.
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