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The FCC, Department of Homeland Security, National Weather Service and other agencies collaborated to create this system. In a previous post, I mentioned that NOAA weather radios are the way to go to receive weather warnings and updates when you are inside and asleep.
You will have an option to opt out of receiving weather and AMBER alerts, but you will not be able to opt out of Presidential emergency alerts.
If a warning or some type of disaster occurs, you will be notified with a 90 character text that will briefly update you on the situation.
Typically when tornado warnings are issued, they are drawn into a polygon that outlines a particular area of where that storm will travel. The Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Weather Service and other agencies collaborated to create this system. Bottom line: A new system called the Wireless Emergency Alerts service will be implemented around the end of May 2012 that will automatically send out text alerts about weather warnings, AMBER alerts, or Presidential alerts for emergency situations. When he's not keeping EarthSky's community up-to-date on global weather happenings, meteorologist Matt Daniel is the weekend Meteorologist for 13WMAZ (CBS) in Macon, Georgia. Some students didn’t feel “Oso Safe” when the university sent out a text message Thursday referring to a “Shots Fired Presentation” and “Live Burn” scheduled to happen that afternoon. The text came to students through the same system that normally issues alerts about university closures or emergencies, and caused confusion among some students who wondered if there actually was an emergency on campus.


On many cell phones, including the iPhone that many students own, the words “Shots Fired” and “Presentation” ended up on different lines in the text message. The university was attempting to get the word out about Safety Awareness Day events being presented on campus, including a presentation about school shootings and a demonstration on fire safety.
Students are not used to receiving friendly, purely informational texts from the university, and that is not something they should get used to.
Students know when we receive a text from Baylor that something important is happening, and that the information in the text could potentially help keep us safe.
The importance of these texts hasn’t been watered down by commercial messages or other non-urgent texts in the past.
Between e-mail, Twitter and Facebook, Baylor has plenty of avenues for reaching students with any messages that are not of immediate importance. Baylor made an excellent choice when the university decided to use text messages to send out safety alerts.
But as tempting as it may be to find other uses for the texting system, it’s simply not a good idea. If a tornado warning is issued for Dallas, Texas, for example, then mobile phone subscribers currently in that city will receive a text with a tornado warning.
It will be interesting to see how it works and how people will respond to the texts that are issued.


After confusion stemming from the first message, the university sent a second text message of clarification. This made it harder for students to realize that the presentation was in fact titled “Shots Fired,” and it implied that there was both a firearm discharged on campus and a presentation to come later in the day. These are the avenues that should be used for commercial messages, as they have been in the past, and texts should be reserved for only messages of serious importance.
This distinction is vital, lest students become frustrated and begin to ignore the university’s text messages, which could naturally result in disaster during a true emergency. A: Wireless customers might be able to block all emergency texts except for the presidential alerts. The decision as to whether users can block the other alerts will be left up to the wireless carrier.Q: Do I have to pay for the alerts? A: The Office of Emergency Management crafts the alerts, then sends them to a FEMA aggregator, which from there disperses the alerts to the wireless carriers.



Warning signs of a tornado at night
Flash flood emergency preparedness




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