Emergency Alerts

When emergencies strike, public safety officials use timely and reliable systems to alert you. Emergency alerts are sent out via the mobile telephone network, to all mobile telephones in a defined area.

What does an emergency alert look like?

An emergency alert is comprised of a text message that will take priority on your phone. If your phone supports text-to-speech, you can have the message read out loud. An emergency alert is not the same as an ordinary text message.

When you receive an emergency alert, your telephone will vibrate and play a loud sound – regardless of whether you are on a call, have your phone in silent mode or similar.

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs)

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are short emergency messages from authorized federal, state, local, tribal and territorial public alerting authorities that can be broadcast from cell towers to any WEA‐enabled mobile device in a locally targeted area. WEAs can be sent by state and local public safety officials, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the President of the United States.

  • WEAs look like text messages but are designed to get your attention with a unique sound and vibration repeated twice.
  • WEAs are no more than 360 characters and include the type and time of the alert, any action you should take and the agency issuing the alert.
  • WEAs are not affected by network congestion and will not disrupt texts, calls or data sessions that are in progress.
  • You are not charged for receiving WEAs and there is no need to subscribe.

Emergency Alert System (EAS)

The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national public warning system that allows the president to address the nation within 10 minutes during a national emergency. State and local authorities may also use the system to deliver important emergency information such as weather information, imminent threats, AMBER alerts and local incident information targeted to specific areas.

  • The EAS is sent through broadcasters, satellite digital audio services, direct broadcast satellite providers, cable television systems and wireless cable systems.
  • The President has sole responsibility for determining when the national-level EAS will be activated. FEMA and the FCC are responsible for national-level tests and exercises.
  • The EAS is also used when all other means of alerting the public are unavailable.

NOAA Weather Radio (NWR)

NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations that broadcast continuous weather information from the nearest National Weather Service office based on your physical location.

  • NWR broadcasts official warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • NWR also broadcasts alerts of non-weather emergencies such as national security or public safety threats through the Emergency Alert System.

The FEMA App allows you to receive real-time weather and emergency alerts, send notifications to loved ones, locate emergency shelters in your area, get preparedness strategies and more.

  • Receive real-time weather and emergency alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide. 
  • Find a nearby shelter if you need to evacuate to a safe space.
  • Find out if your location is eligible for FEMA assistance, find Disaster Recovery Center locations, and get answers to your most pressing questions.