Emergency alerts you can’t miss

The importance of text messaging during emergency situations has become more and more apparent. Tragic events such as deadly and destructive hurricanes or mass shootings have shown that these messages  — which can be sent during times of low data, and can be sent and received immediately — are an invaluable option, when other communication options may be dramatically limited.

As events such as these have occurred, the U.S. government completed preparedness and reactionary evaluations. Emergency officials began to recognize and identify the ways in which text messaging was used, and could be better utilized. Over time, the government began to plan for a nationwide emergency notification system that could employ this reliable and successful means of communication.

In the spring of 2012, the federal government and all U.S.-based wireless providers brought a new Emergency Text Alert System to everyone in the country with a cellphone. The service provides geography-based warnings of life threatening events such as tornadoes, floods, hurricanes typhoons, tsunamis, dust storms, extreme winds, blizzards and ice storms.






There are three different kinds of alerts:

  1. Presidential Alerts – Alerts issued by the President or a designee;
  2. Imminent Threat Alerts – Alerts that include severe man-made or natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc., where an imminent threat to life or property exists; and
  3. AMBER Alerts – Alerts that meet the U.S. Department of Justice’s criteria to help law enforcement search for and locate an abducted child.

These text messages are short, informative, free, and inform recipients about what to do next in any event. Citizens do not have to makes changes or additions to their plans and have security knowing that they have access to information about emergencies that might occur in an area near where they live. Additionally, the system includes an AMBER alert system for missing children as well as Presidential Alerts for national emergencies. All consumers are automatically added to the system, but have the option of opting-out of the available alerts that might occur except Presidential Alerts.

Inevitably, this service will prove to be important in cases of natural disaster or tragedy. While we hope we’re never in need of such emergency notifications, having the option to receive them in such an immediate and simplistic manner is reassuring.

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