National Emergency Alert poses concerns for victims in domestic violence situations, rape crisis center says

The test of the Emergency Alert System could present a problem for individuals in domestic violence situations who own a safety phone. (WWSB)
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 6:03 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB/Gray News) - The Federal Emergency Management Agency will send out a test of the national Emergency Alert System and the Wireless Emergency Alert System on Wednesday, October 4.

The test will be at 2:20 p.m. Eastern time.

For the EAS portion of the test, FEMA will send an emergency alert test message to televisions and radios lasting around one minute, saying: “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering the United States from 14:20 to 14:50 hours ET. This is only a test. No action is required by the public.”

However, according to workers with Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center in Sarasota, the test does present a problem for individuals in domestic violence situations who own a safety phone.

The center says a safe phone can be a phone donated to victims that can dial 911 in an emergency or a phone provided by a loved one of someone in a violent situation to call for help. Those phones are often hidden by the victim but if the phone is on, the alert will still sound and could reveal the hiding spot of the phone.

“The best thing a survivor can do is to turn the phone off, at least for tonight and tomorrow,” Sigrid, a worker with SPARCC who asked to only be identified by that name, told ABC7.

The alert may not happen at exactly 2:20 p.m. so turning the phone off for a long period of time is likely the safest option.

If you are in the Suncoast and have a situation where you may need a safety phone, you can reach out to local centers and resources in your area:

Manatee County: HOPE Family Services

Sarasota County: SPARCC

If you would to donate phones to either organization, get in touch with each respective group for instructions.

If you are in South Sarasota County, you can also drop phones off at the Venice Police Department and North Port Police Department,

ABC7 has reached out to FEMA for comment.