For Immediate Release
December 31, 2012
Have you ever wondered when you went to bed at night if there was a serious weather event how you would find out about it? The State Emergency Response Team (SERT) in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) advises there is an answer to that question. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are now being sent out to those who have WEA capable cell phones. Older phones may not receive WEAs and some phones will soon receive software updates that will add this feature.
The free messages are sent out automatically. Cell phone users do not have to sign up for this service but some users have the option of opting out. Although some cell phone users may be able to opt out of these warnings, Emergency Management strongly discourages this. The WEAs are not intended to take the place of gathering further information from other weather sources. Stay tuned to your television or your NOAA weather radio for what is happening and what actions you should take.
The messages are sent to phones that are located within a certain radius of a cell phone tower. SERT advises that according to the location of the phone at the time of an alert, users may receive multiple alerts for different areas (i.e. individuals in eastern Walton County may receive an alert intended for those in western Washington or Holmes Counties).
There are three types of alerts that are issued:
1) Presidential Alert—issued by the President of the United States in case of nationwide emergency
2) Imminent Threat—issued by National Weather Service. For Florida, this would include such warnings as tornadoes, flash floods, hurricane, extreme wind or tsunami.
3) AMBER Alert—issued by law enforcement to share information about a child abduction
Emergency Management Director Major Joe Preston stated, “This is a great feature to keep our citizens informed of all types of emergency situations, not just hurricanes. More and more of our citizens are using smart phones as their only source of communication. This provides a viable option for alerting someone who may not be at home listening to the radio or watching their television.”
For further information on WEAs, contact your local cell phone provider or go to http://www.fema.gov/integrated-public-alert-warning-system.