Smart phone technology offers great opportunities and sources for emergency information. In addition to having access to a wide variety of apps and mobile messaging sources, most newer smart phone are equipped, out of the box, with the Wireless Emergency Alert feature.
Wireless Emergency Alerts
The Wireless Emergency Alert system is a national emergency alert system established through partnership between the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and wireless industry carriers. The system is designed to allow emergency managers devices.
Mobile users will not be charged for receiving these alerts and are automatically enrolled to receive them. While these alerts will appear on a person’s mobile device similar to a text message, Wireless Emergency Alerts are not text messages. Wireless Emergency Alerts use a different technology to ensure they are delivered immediately and are not subject to congestion or delays on wireless networks. The message will appear similar to a popup message and will have a unique ring tone and vibration. For technical reasons, the message length is limited to a maximum of 90 characters.
In addition, Wireless Emergency Alerts are sent to all capable devices within an targeted geographic area. This assures that people in the area of the emergency will be rapidly alerted, while not alarming people that are not at risk.
There are three kinds of alerts that can be issued over the Wireless Emergency Alert system:
- National level alerts issued by the President.
- Local imminent threat alerts that include severe man made or natural disasters such as tornadoes or flash floods where an immediate threat to life or property exists.
- AMBER alerts that meet the US Department of Justice’s criteria to help law enforcement search for and locate an abducted child.
Additional Information from the National Weather Service can be found at:
National Weather Service
Check with your wireless carrier to confirm that your device is capable of receiving these alerts. Additional information on the wireless industry’s participation can be found at:
CITA Wireless Emergency Alerts
Eau Claire County Warning System
Eau Claire County Emergency Management, in cooperation with the cities of Altoona and Eau Claire, has purchased a mass notification system for residents of Eau Claire County. Emergency officials will be able to utilize this device for any emergency event that may affect the community.
The system requires the public to sign-up to receive notifications for emergencies impacting the safety of our community. Weather alerts from the National Weather Service (NWS), warnings for evacuation or shelter-in-place, missing persons search announcements, and unplanned road closures are some of the notifications that this system will be utilized for.
Eau Claire County residents are encouraged to register for alerts. SIGN UP NOW >>
Weather Warning Apps
There are a wide variety of weather and severe weather warning apps available. These apps are revolutionizing the way people get emergency and potentially life-saving information about severe weather. A weather warning app is as mobile as you are and will alert you to changing conditions no matter where you are (as long as you have a signal).
We can’t endorse specific products, and we also can’t possibly list them all. The best app for you will depend on your preferences; however, there are some basic features to look for:
- Visual and full text display of National Weather Service alerts.
- Severe weather alerts for your current location as well as saved favorites.
- Real-time, animated radar.
- Interactive maps with National Weather Service alerts.
- Unique, user-selectable alert notification (tone, vibration, light).
- User-selectable notifications based on severity.
- Local forecast features.
- Inexpensive or free.
Apps are available for iPhones, Android phones, and Blackberry devices. A search for “Weather Warning App” will give you a good place to start.
The American Red Cross has an app available through the Apple App Store or Google Play that will provide safety tools, tips, and instructions in addition to delivering Tornado Warning notifications.