Officials in Emergency Management are well aware that warnings can help to save lives during extreme weather emergencies such as the likes of tornados. However, citizens cannot always rely on such traditional warning methods as outdoor sirens, radio, and television. Because of this, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has teamed up their Integrated Public Alert and Warning System with federal officials, allowing them to be able to send warnings straight to people’s phones in a scheme that finally kicks off this week.
The National Weather Service is now able to use the new Wireless Emergency Alert system in order to send warnings about blizzards, flash floods, ice storms, and tornados in local areas to the cell towers that serve those affected counties. The warnings will then be automatically sent cell phones that are within range of the towers, although many old cell phones may not be able to receive them.
“While these warnings may look like text messages, no phone charges on your phone bill will occur,” says Grand Island-Hall County’s emergency management director, Jon Rosenlund. “This is just one more way to be alerted for imminent dangers, whether you’re at home or on the road.” The short messages will offer very basic information as to the kind of warning, duration, and the areas affected.
“When you get this warning message, we encourage you to turn to other sources for more detailed information about what to expect and what actions you should take,” Rosenlund adds.