Know Your Wireless Emergency Alerts
Alerts received at the right time can help keep you and your family safe during an emergency.
During an approaching natural disaster, the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) will send a signal to your mobile phone, alerting you of an emergency. Your phone will vibrate and make a loud noise to indicate the emergency.
WEA look like text messages, but are designed to get your attention and alert you with a unique sound and vibration, both repeated twice., but are designed to get your attention and alert you with a unique sound and vibration, both repeated twice.
With WEA, you don’t need to download an application or subscribe to a service. Check with your service provider to find out if WEA are enabled on your device. Mobile users are not charged for receiving WEA and there is no need to subscribe. View the WEA public service announcement.
There are three types of alerts systems that are sent to your phone during an emergency or official public announcement:
In cases of a weather emergency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio All Hazards offers warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Many local jurisdictions also offer emergency alerts. You can find if your town, city, county, or state has an emergency alert system by performing an Internet search. Simply enter “alert” and the name of your area into a web browser.
The National Weather Service offers more information on WEA, including what kinds of weather emergencies prompt a notification. In addition, FEMA developed answers for frequently asked questions on WEA.
Preparing for a Tornado
To ensure that you’re able to act quickly and get the best available protection during a tornado, you need to plan ahead. Advanced planning and practicing specifically how and where you will take cover for protection may save your life.
Your primary goal is to go to the safest place for protection before the tornado approaches and take additional measures for personal cover. If a tornado warning is issued, immediately move to the best available protection.
Having advance notice that a tornado is approaching your area can give you the critical time needed to move to a place with better protection. The best protection in all tornadoes is to seek shelter in a structure built to FEMA safe room or International Code 500 storm shelter standards.
If you’re unable to get to a safe room during a tornado, move to an interior windowless room on the lowest level of a building, preferably the basement. Take personal cover under sturdy furniture such as a table. Cover your head and neck with your arms and place a blanket or coat over your body.
The America’s PrepareAthon! How to Prepare for a Tornado guide provides preparedness tips if you live, work, or travel through an area that is susceptible to tornadoes:
Know how to stay informed, including monitoring weather reports provided by your local media;
Know where you would go to have the best level of protection from a tornado for every place you spend a lot of time, such as home, work, school, or place of worship;
Store at least a 3-day supply of food, water, medications, and items you may need after the tornado passes; and
Store the important documents on a USB flash drive or in a waterproof container that you will need to start your recovery.
Some locations don't provide protection from tornadoes, including: manufactured (mobile) homes/offices, the open space of open-plan buildings (e.g., malls, big retail stores, and gymnasiums), vehicles, and the outdoors. An alternative shelter should be identified prior to a tornado watch or warning.
You can find additional resources online, including a tornado checklist that provides guidance on what steps to take before and after a tornado.