Wireless Emergency Alerts
If you have a cell phone, staying informed just got easier, no matter where you are.
Wireless companies, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Emergency
Management Agency are teaming up to provide residents with a reliable wireless emergency
alert system (WEA). These alerts will allow agencies like the Chatham Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service, and even the President to send concise, text-like messages to users. They are not text messages and will not count towards texting limits on wireless plans.
1. What are WEA messages?
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are emergency messages sent by authorized government alerting authorities through your mobile carrier. Government partners include local and state public safety agencies, FEMA, the FCC, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Weather Service.
2. Why is this important to me?
Alerts received at the right time can help keep you safe during an emergency. With WEA, alerts can be sent to your mobile device when you may be in harm's way, with no need to download an app or subscribe to a service.
3. What types of alerts will I receive?
* Extreme weather warnings
* Local emergencies requiring evacuation or immediate action
* AMBER Alerts
* Presidential Alerts during a national emergency
4. What does a WEA message look like?
WEA will look like a text message. The WEA message will show the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, and the agency issuing the alert. The message will be no more than 90 characters.
5. How will I know the difference between WEA and a regular text message?
WEA messages include a special tone and vibration, both repeated twice.
6. What types of WEA messages will the National Weather Service send?
* Tsunami Warnings
* Tornado and Flash Flood Warnings
* Hurricane, Typhoon, Dust Storm and Extreme Wind Warnings
* Blizzard and Ice Storm Warnings
7. What should I do when I receive a WEA message?
Follow any action advised by the emergency message. Seek more details from local
media or authorities.
8. When will I start receiving WEA messages?
It depends. WEA use is expected to begin in the June 2012, but many mobile devices, especially older ones, are not WEA-capable. When you buy a new mobile device, it probably will be able to receive WEA messages. For information about which mobile devices are WEA-capable, please visit http://www.ctia.org/wea or contact your wireless carrier.
12. Will I be charged for receiving WEA messages? No. This service is offered for free by wireless carriers. WEA messages will not count towards texting limits on your wireless plan.
13. Does WEA know where I am? Is it tracking me?
No. Just like emergency weather alerts you see on local TV, WEA are broadcast from area cell towers to mobile devices in the area. Every WEA-capable phone within range receives the message, just like every TV shows the emergency weather alert if it is turned on. TV stations, like WEA, don't know exactly who is tuned in.
17. What if I don't want to receive WEA messages?
You can opt-out of receiving WEA messages for imminent threats and AMBER alerts, but not for Presidential messages. To opt out, please refer to instructions from your wireless carrier or visit http://www.ctia.org/wea for more information.
19. How will I receive alerts if I don't have a WEA-capable device?
WEA is one of many ways you can receive emergency notifications. Other sources include NOAA Weather Radio, news media coverage, the Emergency Alert System on radio and TV broadcasts, social media, and other alerting methods offered by local and state public safety agencies. Your best use of WEA is to immediately seek additional information about the imminent threat impacting your area.