Saskatchewan residents now have access to a smart phone app that alerts them to emergencies.
Tornadoes, boil-water advisories, train derailments and blizzards all are included in the SaskAlert app, designed to offer timely warnings of emergency situations.
The province announced SaskAlert, part of the national emergency reporting system, a year ago.
The app, for iPhone and Android, notifies users of emergencies through a tone and notification on the screen.
Government relations minister Jim Reiter said about one-third of Saskatchewan communities have signed up to post information for residents.
“Once it’s downloaded, residents have real-time information,” Reiter said. “They can take immediate action to protect their families and their properties.”
He pointed to last year’s wildfires and flooding the year before as examples of how the app could help notify people about conditions on the ground.
“We need to look no further back than this past weekend,” Reiter said. “The Lampman area has had some flooding conditions.”
His hometown of Rosetown also saw torrential rainfall.
In addition to the app, the province has upgraded its www.saskalert.ca page where more detailed information on the alerts can be found.
Executive director of emergency management and fire commissioner Duane McKay said three types of alerts will be posted.
• Critical alerts indicate the need to take immediate action.
•Advisories indicate it is time to prepare for action.
• There will also be test alerts from time to time.
Alerts posted on the web page can be shared through social media.
Mieka Cleary, deputy commissioner, said the app can be tailored to certain regions. The notification tone for critical alerts is a common sound used across Canada and while advisories can be turned off, critical alerts cannot, she said.
McKay urged all smaller communities and First Nations to request the available training to make the system province-wide.
Environment Canada will post tornado and other weather warnings. Municipalities could use it to post things like road closures due to fire or flood.
McKay also said research indicated about 97 percent of smart phone users in the province use either iPhone or Android.