ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Cell phones across the nation will recieve a sound alert and text n on Wednesday as FEMA initiates a nationwide emergency alert test.
The alert is used in case of a national emergency, and tests are conducted every three years. For most, the test is a minor inconvenience. For others, however, the test period is a potentially dangerous time.
Survivors of domestic violence, for example, are often given a “safe phone” that is hidden from abusers and allows survivors to contact friends, family or emergency personnel without the risk of being traced. Some are concerned that Wednesday’s test could reveal the “safe phone” to abusers.
“I think it’s important for each survivor and his her or their own case by case basis to figure out what’s happening and how they can best protect themselves during that time period tomorrow,” said Jennifer Cacciapaglia, executive director for Rockford’s Office of Domestic and Community Violence Prevention. ” And the next step is really coming up with for that very finite period of time, figuring out what to do with that phone to make sure that it doesn’t alert somebody else to its existence.”
40 percent of reported violent crime in Rockford is related to domestic abuse. Many instances go unreported due to fear of retaliation, making “safe phones” a critical tool for survivors.
Cacciapaglia says there is always help available, no matter the situation.
“You don’t have to do this alone, you don’t have to find out the next best step on your own, lean into the resources, lean into your support system. If you don’t have one ready, extra service again, reach out to the Rockford Family Peace Center. Advocates are there and can help provide you some guidance and safety planning for this very specific situation.”
The emergency alert is set to go off around 1:20 p.m.