Wireless Emergency Alerts

Posted by Brion Kinne June 19, 2013

Be in the Know Wherever You Go

Wireless Emergency Alerts

As part of our effort to be there for you, Safeco Insurance would like you to know about a public service provided by the federal government in cooperation with wireless carriers designed to help keep you informed and safe during severe weather emergencies and other types of public safety threats.

Wireless emergency alerts are part of the national emergency alert system that includes other warning services like NOAA Weather Radio, emergency broadcasts on radio and TV and outdoor sirens. Wireless emergency alerts are short messages similar to text messages sent with a unique sound and vibration that contain warnings about severe or extreme weather, child abductions and other public safety threats in your area. There is no need to download an app or subscribe to a service. Alerts are automatically sent to all mobile devices capable of receiving them within range of cell towers in the emergency zone.

There are three types of wireless emergency alerts. Alerts are issued by the National Weather Service, state and local authorities and the president of the United States. You can contact your carrier to opt-out of the first two types, but you cannot opt-out of presidential alerts.

Imminent Threat Alerts

The National Weather Service will issue wireless emergency alerts for severe and extreme local weather events including:

  • Tsunamis
  • Tornadoes
  • Flash floods
  • Hurricanes
  • Dust storms and extreme wind
  • Blizzards and ice storms

Other types of imminent threat alerts may include evacuation orders, information about chemical spills and wildfires.

AMBER Alerts

State and local authorities will issue AMBER alerts to mobilize your local community in the search for abducted and missing children.

Presidential Alerts

Presidential alerts concerning national emergencies and threats will be issued by the president of the United States or a presidential designee.

Over 100 wireless carriers voluntarily participate in the wireless emergency alert system. A dedicated technology that is separate and different from voice calls and SMS text messages is used to broadcast wireless emergency alerts in order to prevent normal network congestion from disrupting their transmission.

Check with your wireless carrier to find out if your mobile device is able to receive wireless emergency alerts.

For more information visit:
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Federal Communications Commission
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

More from Safeco:
Learn more about emergency preparedness.

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