Wireless emergency alerts

Photo: DGLimages/iStockphoto

Many communities offer wireless emergency alerts that can be sent directly to your mobile device – no app or subscription service needed. They include information on extreme weather, Amber Alerts (urgent bulletins issued in serious child-abduction cases) and presidential alerts in case of a national emergency. WEAs also may come from the National Weather Service and include tsunami, tornado, hurricane and wind warnings. The alerts will state what action, if any, you should take, as well as the agency issuing the alert.

According to, WEAs will include a special tone and vibration that’s repeated twice so you can differentiate them from regular text messages.

Other facts about WEAs from

  • If you travel somewhere experiencing an emergency that warrants a WEA, your WEA-capable device will receive the message when you enter the area.
  • WEA capabilities began in April 2012. Many older mobile devices aren’t WEA-capable. Check with your provider.
  • WEA services are offered for free by wireless carriers.
  • WEAs won’t interrupt phone calls and will only activate once you finish a call.
  • Even during an emergency when you can’t get service to make a call or text, you’ll still receive WEAs. These aren’t affected by network congestion.

For more information on WEAs and what’s available in your area, visit

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