Get Free Weather And Emergency Mobile Alerts From WEA

June 12, 2016

In many cases, bad weather situations develop quickly. Not all people listen to the radio while driving or keep the news or weather reports on while they are at home. However, most people keep their mobile phones within arm's reach if they use them regularly. Imagine being able to receive weather-related alerts on a cell phone. That is now possible with the Wireless Emergency Alerts system as it warns people of local threats. These are some answers to common questions about WEA.

What are WEA mobile messages? These are emergency text messages from government agencies. They are sent to a recipient's phone through the mobile carrier. DHS, NWS, FCC and FEMA are a few of the cooperating agencies. The alerts are automatically sent to compatible phones during any local emergency. Recipients do not have to pay fees or download any apps.

Why are emergency mobile alerts important? Alerts can help people learn about impending weather situations that could pose serious risks. For example, someone driving through a storm may learn of a tornado ahead and be able to avoid driving into a dangerous zone. Also, a person who lives in a flood-prone area may learn about an impending flash flood and be able to leave before it happens. Each message is less than 90 characters. It states the emergency, time frames and any required action from the recipient. The tone is very distinct and will be repeated twice to help distinguish it from regular texts.

What types of alerts are issued? When the alerts are for bad weather, they will be issued for tornadoes, severe storms, flash floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, dust storms and extreme winds. These are the categories of all types of alerts that recipients may receive:

AMBER alerts
Extreme weather warnings
Local emergency information
Evacuation orders
Presidential alerts for emergencies


What action is necessary after receiving an alert? The alert will specify what action to take. For example, take shelter if there is a tornado nearby. For tsunamis and hurricanes, evacuation orders may be issued. Turn to the news or a local radio station for information about evacuation centers in the event of a weather-related emergency.

What happens with alerts when traveling? Alerts are not set to a specific area. As a person travels, he or she will automatically receive local information. This is especially helpful for people who take long road trips. Alerts are automatic and supported through participating mobile carriers and compatible phones. Check with a personal cellular carrier to learn more.

Anyone who has a cell phone that was made in 2013 or later and is from a major provider will probably receive alerts automatically. These alerts are not the same as those that come from local sources. Some people sign up for such services, and they typically are longer and more detailed. However, these vital alerts do not require recipients to sign up. Also, the alerts do not count toward a maximum text limit each month.

WEA does not track users. It utilizes radio technology to issue broadcasts to cell towers, which issue them to nearby mobile devices. The messages can still be issued when there is no cell service due to network congestion or an emergency. Since alerts are delayed until people finish in-progress phone calls, it is important to avoid talking on the phone as much as possible when a threat exists or when severe weather is present.

For those who wish to opt out of messages, it is possible to opt out of alerts but not presidential messages. Users can opt out of certain types of alerts and keep others. Warnings may reach phones that are outside of the actual area due to the use of radio technology for broadcasting. However, this is a good way to learn about nearby threats in rural areas. Aside from buying a compatible device, people who do not have a compatible phone can get weather and emergency alerts from local and state agencies by signing up. To learn more about alerts, discuss concerns with an agent.

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