BUZZ-BUZZ-BUZZ, this is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. Do you remember those annoying interruptions on the television when we were kids watching our fave TV show? The program was created more than 50 years ago under President Kennedy to communicate safety information to the American public.
The program today has grown up, and is now a powerful collaboration between the CTIA, FCC, and FEMA called Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). In Boston, WEA communicated critical information to those effected by the Boston Marathon. In Oklahoma, it saved lives with tornado information, and in California, it was recently used to alert the public about abducted children.
Emergency alerts are received like a text message but are transmitted differently. There’s no tracking or possibility of delay. They are also sent twice and are accompanied with a jarring tone and vibration. Messages are location based, so if you’re traveling and enter a messaged area, you will receive the alert for your safety and protection.
There are three types of WEA alerts, including:
- Presidential Alerts: Alerts issued by the President or designee
- Imminent Threat Alerts: The most common type of alerts that include man-made or natural disasters, such as flash floods or terrorist threat
- Amber Alert: The help and rescue of abducted children
You may opt-out of Imminent Threat or Amber Alerts, but not Presidential Alerts. But think twice before you do. Advanced warning of a flash flood or information after an earthquake, may save your life or a loved one.