Cell phones alert you to emergenciesYour cell phone might just save your life. Mike Simonson reports. What’s being called “Wireless Emergency Alerts” will automatically buzz your cell phone about life-threatening weather or local emergencies starting this summer.
By: Mike Simonson/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Your cell phone might just save your life. Mike Simonson reports.
What’s being called “Wireless Emergency Alerts” will automatically buzz your cell phone about life-threatening weather or local emergencies starting this summer.
The Wireless Emergency Alerts cover extreme weather warnings like tornadoes and floods, messages from local Emergency Management such as evacuations, Amber alerts and presidential alerts during a national crisis.
National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Carol Christenson in Duluth says all cell phone carriers are taking part across the country, although it might not work on older cell phones. She says you can opt out, but you don’t have to opt in.
“And you don’t even have to do a thing,” she said. “It’s automatic. So it’s really cool.
The caveat, the cell phone must be turned on to receive the alert.
She says the alert is a special tone and vibration.
“You can be talking on it, doing something with it and it will automatically alert. However, if you’re on the phone with someone, it’ll wait until you’re done talking on the phone. So it’s like getting a really, really, really important text message. It’s some kind of alarm and alert that is totally different from anything else on your phone, so it’ll be sure to get your attention.”
Christenson says the alerts will come from the nearest cell phone tower, so if you’re traveling, you’ll get warnings in the area where you are. The Wireless Emergency Alert is free.