ARCHIVE: National Preparedness Month: Emergency Alerts
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September is National Preparedness Month. The goal is to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen unexpectedly. Everyone is encouraged to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools and communities. This includes food safety, too.
This week, we are covering emergency alerts and notifications. The rest of the month, we’ll cover building safety processes, workplace violence — active shooter as well as cyber security and remote work.
Read more about National Preparedness Month on the ready.gov site. Learn more about specific disasters and emergencies that affect your community at your local and state emergency management agency websites. Find your local agency.
Emergency Alerts and Notifications
When there is an emergency, public safety officials use timely and reliable systems to alert you. The alerts may contain instructions, information regarding the emergency and other pertinent information. There are three major alert systems: Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio (NWR). Additionally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has developed the FEMA mobile app available for Apple and Android devices. Many local and state emergency management agencies have their own “opt-in” emergency alert and notification systems, on which members of the public can sign up for emergency alerts. Reach out to your local or state emergency management agency for more information.
Wireless Emergency Alert System
WEAs are short emergency messages form authorized federal, state, local, tribal and territorial public authorities that can be broadcast from cell towers to any WEA-enabled mobile device in a locally targeted area.
WEAs look like text messages but are designed to get your attention with a unique sound and vibration repeated twice. WEAs are no more than 360 characters and include the alert type, time, the agency issuing the alert and any action you should take.
WEAs are not affected by network congestion and will not disrupt texts, calls or data sessions that are in progress. WEAs have no fees for receipt, and there is no need to subscribe.
Emergency Alert System
EAS is a national public warning system that allows the president to address the nation within 10 minutes during a national emergency. State and local authorities may also use the system to deliver important emergency information such as weather information, imminent threats, AMBER alerts and local incident information targeted to specific areas.
EAS is sent through broadcasters, satellite digital audio services, direct broadcast satellite providers, cable television systems and wireless cable systems. The President has sole responsibility for determining when the national-level EAS will be activated. FEMA and the Federal Communications Commission are responsible for national-level tests and exercises.
The EAS is also used when all other means of alerting the public are unavailable. Learn more about EAS.
NOAA Weather Radio
NWR is a nationwide network of radio stations that broadcast continuous weather information from the nearest National Weather Service office based on your physical location. NWR broadcasts official warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazards information 24-hours a day, seven days a week. NWR also broadcasts alerts of non-weather emergencies such as national security or public safety threats through the Emergency Alert System. Learn more about NWR.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Mobile App
FEMA’s mobile app offers users general tips to survive natural disasters, kit building information, locations of shelters and other resources and more. The app also allows users receive alerts from the National Weather Service based on locations selected. The app is also available in Spanish.