Time is everything.  When there’s an emergency you need information as quickly as possible so you can prepare and seek safety.  Our public safety officials have developed systems that alert the community in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.  It’s important to know what alerts are in place and the access you have to them.

IPAWS (Integrated Public Alert Warning System)

  • IPAWS is the nation’s system for alerts and warnings. The public is alerted of emergencies using the EAS, WEA, NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, and other public alerts in one single entity.  Notifications are sent for three categories- Presidential, AMBER, and Imminent Threat.

Emergency Alert System (EAS)

  • Used to alert local authorities who then send out detailed warnings to broadcast, cable, satellite, and wireline communication pathways.

Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA)

  • Free emergency text message alert sent by local authorities.
  • Will broadcast to all equipped mobile devices in an affected area.
  • You do not have to sign up to receive WEA alerts. You can visit ctia.org/WEA for more information or contact your mobile device provider.

NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards

  • Requires a special weather radio receiver to receive NWR broadcasts. These can be purchased at almost any home improvement retailer or electronic store.  Look for the Public Alert or NWR logo to ensure specific requirements are met.  More information can be found at nws.noaa.gov/nwr.

Local Jurisdiction Emergency Notification System

  • Many local jurisdictions will offer opt-in public alert and warning systems. You will have to sign up to receive the alert.  Once signed up you will receive texts or emails for local emergencies.  Find which alerts are available in your area by searching the word ‘alerts’ online with your town or city’s name, or by visiting your local emergency management office or public safety office.
  • Enhanced Telephone Notification Systems (ETN) works like a reverse 911 system. It typically includes only landlines, but there may be mobile opt-in services available.  Local emergency management will have more information on this process and the features available.
  • Outdoor sirens and voice alert systems are used for alerts when there is immediate danger and people are outside. These alerts are not designed to alert those indoors.  Check with your local emergency management for information about what services are operable and available in your area.
  • Check your local workplace, school, and community faith-based organizations for possible opt-in lists for warnings and notifications. This may include a call or email system similar to those used by local authorities.


  • Weather alert and hazard apps are available to offer further alerts, information, and instruction during disasters. FEMA, The American Red Cross, and The Weather Channel are just a few of the organizations that offer helpful apps.

Emergency alerts are in place to keep us safe and informed.  Having access to these alerts is crucial when disaster strikes.  Becoming aware of the difference between alerts and having an emergency plan in place is the best way to stay safe and secure in an emergency situation.


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