FEMA Helps Americans Prepare for Severe Weather with Wireless Emergency Alerts
Recent severe weather nationwide and the start of the Atlantic hurricane season reinforce the need for Americans to familiarize themselves with the look, sound and authenticity of real-time Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs).
What to expect with the WEAs:
WEAs are emergency messages sent by local authorized government authorities through wireless carriers’ networks.
The alerts include a special tone and vibration.
The messages are no more than 90 characters and contain the type and time of the alert, any action individuals should take and the issuing agency.
Types of alerts include extreme weather such as hurricane, tornado or flash flood warnings; AMBER alerts and alerts issued by the U.S. President.
Alerts are broadcast from area cell towers warning everyone in range with a WEA-capable device of a potential emergency situation.
You do not need to register to receive WEA notifications. You will automatically receive alerts if you have WEA-capable phone and your wireless carrier participates in the program.
National Preparedness Month: What's in Your Emergency Kit?
September is National Preparedness Month. FEMA's Ready Campaign, Citizen Corps and The Ad Council are partners in a nationwide effort to encourage individuals, families, businesses and communities to work together and take action to prepare for emergencies.
Sixty percent of Americans say preparation for natural or man-made disasters is very important to them, yet only 17 percent claim to be very prepared for an emergency situation.
Readiness is a shared responsibility, and FEMA asks all Americans to make the pledge to prepare this month and help themselves, their neighbors and their communities be Ready. People can get started by visiting www.Ready.gov/today downloading a family emergency plan, emergency kit checklists, and getting information on how to get involved locally. Be informed about the types of emergencies that can happen in your area, and the appropriate way to respond.
During National Preparedness Month, and throughout the year, FEMA and the Ad Council invites everyone to prepare in advance for all types of natural disasters. National Preparedness Month is a good opportunity to update or create your emergency kit. Emergency supply kits at home and at work should contain:
At least a three day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day) and non-perishable food. (Remember to change food and water every six months).
Eyeglasses, hearing aids, extra keys.
First-aid kit, extra prescription medications, copies of prescriptions, other special medical items.
Special supplies needed for babies or older adults.
Important documents and records, photo IDs, proof of residence.
Cash (power outages mean banks and ATMs may be unavailable).
Battery-operated radio and flashlight with extra batteries.
Phone numbers of family and friends.
Road maps, a travel plan, hotel reservations, list of places between your town and your destination where you can stop if the highways are clogged.
Coolers for food and ice storage, paper plates, plastic utensils.
Manual can opener, booster cables, tools.
Blankets, pillows, sleeping bags and extra clothing.
Toilet paper, cleanup supplies, personal hygiene products.
FEMA Urges Preparedness for Hurricanes and Severe Weather
Mobile wireless emergency alerting capabilities will be available nationwide through participating carriers
Hurricane Season begins June 1st, FEMA is providing additional tools for federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officials to alert and warn the public about severe weather. Using the Commercial Mobile Alert System, or CMAS, which is a part of FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, this structure will be used to deliver Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to wireless carriers for distribution to the public.
The CMAS system will allow the National Weather Service to soon begin issuing WEAs for the most dangerous weather through participating wireless carriers directly to cell phones. The alerts will be broadcast by cell towers much like an AM/FM radio station, and cell phones within range will immediately pick up the signal, provided they are capable of receiving these alerts. The availability of WEA alerts will be dependent on the network status of the wireless carriers and handset availability, since not all cell phones can receive WEAs. People should check with their cellular carriers to see if WEA alerts are available in their area.
“The wireless emergency alert capability provides an additional opportunity for the public to receive life-saving information needed to get out of harm’s way when a threat exists,” said Timothy Manning, FEMA deputy administrator for protection and national preparedness. “The public also has a critical role in their personal preparedness. There are a few simple steps that everyone can take to be prepared, like knowing which risks exist in your area and making a family emergency plan. Information and resources to help individuals and families prepare can be found at ready.gov.”
WEAs will look like a text message, and will automatically appear on the mobile device screen showing the type and time of alert along with any action that should be taken. The message will be no more than 90 characters, and will have a unique tone and vibration, indicating a WEA has been received. If an alert is received, citizens should follow the instructions and seek additional information from radio, television, NOAA Weather Radio, and other official sources for emergency information. Citizens should only call 911 in a life threatening situation.
Only authorized federal, state, local, tribal or territorial officials can send WEA alerts to the public. As with all new cellular services, it will take time for upgrades in infrastructure, coverage, and handset technology to allow WEA alerts to reach all cellular customers.
FEMA urges individuals and businesses to take action to prepare themselves in advance of severe weather and hurricanes. This is the first step in making sure you and your family are ready for an emergency This includes filling out your family communications plan that you can email to yourself, assembling an emergency kit , keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place, and getting involved.
With the start of hurricanes season it is even more important to know your risk, take action, and be an example. While hurricanes often offer some warning that a threat is approaching, severe weather can occur at anytime and in any place, including high winds, inland flooding, severe storms and tornadoes.