Wireless Emergency Alerts are here and the new way to be alert and be prepared
Submitted by Mike Lovas, Saint Paul Emergency Management
We use our phones for everything. Odds are if you want to buy, sell, read or look something up, there’s an app for it. There is almost nothing we can’t do on our phones.
If you have one of a countless number of weather apps, odds are you’ve seen weather alerts pop up on your phone. Now, you can receive weather emergency text alerts directly from the source.
It’s called Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and is part of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) that requires broadcasters, satellite digital audio service and direct broadcast satellite providers, cable television systems, and wireless cable systems to provide communications capability.
The new wireless member of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) will begin appearing as free text messages on your smartphone with not just weather alerts, but important emergency messages—like AMBER alerts—distributed by state and local authorities.
WEA messages include a special tone and vibration, both repeated twice. The alerts are based on your phone location. This ensures that if you enter an area under an alert after the message is initially sent, you will still receive that message when you enter the area.
It’s important to remember the text alerts are an additional tool alongside EAS messages on television, outdoor warning sirens, weather apps on mobile devices and NOAA weather radios to warn people during an emergency. It also requires the device to be on and in an area of cellular coverage.
We live in a wireless world, and these text alerts are the perfect way to cut the cord on emergency alerts.
For more on how Wireless Emergency Alerts work, check out http://www.ready.gov/alerts