What is an AMBER Alert?

The AMBER Alert system is set up to give you immediate and up-to-date information about child abduction (kidnapping) in your area.

AMBER Alerts are sent out through the Alert Ready emergency alert system, reaching Canadians through many ways like your cell phone, television, or radio; asking for the public’s assistance with the safe and quick return of an abducted child.

The goal of an AMBER Alert is to involve as many community members as possible in helping local law enforcement search for an abducted child.

The process for issuing an AMBER Alert may vary in each province, but basic requirements include:

  • The child is under the age of 18;
  • A belief that the child has been abducted (kidnapped);
  • A belief that the child is in serious danger;
  • Information is available that may help locate the child and/or the suspect; and
  • That the alert is issued within a reasonable amount of time from the moment the child was taken.

What do I do when I receive an AMBER Alert?

Time is very important when a child is missing. If you receive an AMBER Alert for your area you should:

  • Read it carefully, the Alert will contain descriptions of what the child and the suspect look like and possibly what they were wearing, vehicle descriptions, if available; and other important information
  • Be on the lookout for the child, the suspect, or the vehicle mentioned, and
  • Call the police immediately (911) if you see or hear anything related to the Alert and tell the operator that you are calling about an active AMBER Alert.

How did the AMBER Alert System start?

In 1996, 9-year-old Amber Hagerman was kidnapped in the American State of Texas and eventually murdered. Amber's death had a big impact on the whole community. Following this tragedy, an emergency alert system was developed to help quickly get information to the public about child abduction incidents.

This system, available across Canada and the United States, is named in remembrance of Amber Hagerman. The program initially started as a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies and media broadcasters to send out emergency alerts to the public when a child was abducted and believed to be in imminent danger.

In Canada, AMBER Alert programs are provincially operated. While many provinces have AMBER Alert committees, only law enforcement can issue an AMBER Alert.

How do I get alerts on my phone?

Many new phones come with the Emergency Alert function enabled. The first time you get an alert it may surprise you because it has a very particular sound on your cell phone, TV or radio. If your phone does not receive Emergency Alerts you can subscribe to them from the Ontario Emergency Management Office.

For More Information

  • Amber Alert - Police can activate an alert when a child – or an adult with a proven mental or physical disability – is abducted and at risk of harm. From the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) - Canada's national police force. The RCMP enforces federal laws.
  • How can I get help in an emergency? - Call 9-1-1 if you have a life-threatening emergency. The 911 operator can get an interpreter for you if you need one.
Last updated: January 12, 2021 4006454