Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Weekly Tip - Wireless Emergency Alerts

Prolonged vibration notification, unusual sounds coming from your cell phone? You may be receiving a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) from an authorized government or public safety agency, the National Weather Service, or from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The types of alerts may include:

  • Extreme weather advisories
  • Other threatening emergencies in a particular area
  • Amber Alerts
  • Presidential Alerts during a national emergency

The WEA message will look similar to a text message and will be no longer than 90 characters. Most newer model cellular phones are WEA-capable and are set to receive the WEA message. You do have the ability to opt-out of all alerts other than Presidential Alerts. Consult your cellular phone guide for the individual opt-out procedure.

When a WEA message is sent by the authorized agency, the broadcast area is set and the recipients are based on their location within a given cell provider's coverage area. If your phone is within range of the broadcast area, you will receive the WEA message. These messages are similar to an emergency broadcast message to a given television viewing area. Most major carriers participate in this program and have done so since April 2012. WEA messages are free of charge.

The WEA message is not meant to replace emergency or instant messaging systems in use by public safety, but rather, an additional platform used to reach the community. Nixle and Alert Arcadia, along with our other platforms, will continue to be used. Use of multiple platforms allow us to reach those who may prefer or require simple text messages, phone messages, or more detailed web and email messages via computer or smart phone.

For additional information on the WEA Alerts, please visit the FEMA website:

(Sample WEA message)

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