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FEMA Urges Preparedness for Hurricanes and Severe Weather

FEMA Urges Preparedness for Hurricanes and Severe Weather

Mobile wireless emergency alerting capabilities will be available
nationwide through participating carriers

Release Date: May 24, 2012
Release Number: HQ-12-038

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hurricane Season begins June 1, 2012, FEMA is
providing additional tools for federal, state, local, tribal and
territorial officials to alert and warn the public about severe
weather. Using the Commercial Mobile Alert System, or CMAS, which is a
part of FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, this
structure will be used to deliver Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to
wireless carriers for distribution to the public.

The CMAS system will allow the National Weather Service to soon begin
issuing WEAs for the most dangerous weather through participating
wireless carriers directly to cell phones. The alerts will be broadcast
by cell towers much like an AM/FM radio station, and cell phones within
range will immediately pick up the signal, provided they are capable of
receiving these alerts. The availability of WEA alerts will be
dependent on the network status of the wireless carriers and handset
availability, since not all cell phones can receive WEAs. People
should check with their cellular carriers to see if WEA alerts are
available in their area.

“The wireless emergency alert capability provides an additional
opportunity for the public to receive life-saving information needed to
get out of harm’s way when a threat exists,” said Timothy Manning, FEMA
deputy administrator for protection and national preparedness. “The
public also has a critical role in their personal preparedness. There
are a few simple steps that everyone can take to be prepared, like
knowing which risks exist in your area and making a family emergency
plan. Information and resources to help individuals and families
prepare can be found at ready.gov.”

WEAs will look like a text message, and will automatically appear on
the mobile device screen showing the type and time of alert along with
any action that should be taken. The message will be no more than 90
characters, and will have a unique tone and vibration, indicating a WEA
has been received. If an alert is received, citizens should follow the
instructions and seek additional information from radio, television,
NOAA Weather Radio, and other official sources for emergency
information. Citizens should only call 911 in a life threatening
situation.

Only authorized federal, state, local, tribal or territorial officials
can send WEA alerts to the public. As with all new cellular services,
it will take time for upgrades in infrastructure, coverage, and handset
technology to allow WEA alerts to reach all cellular customers.

FEMA urges individuals and businesses to take action to prepare
themselves in advance of severe weather and hurricanes such as taking
the pledge to prepare at http://www.ready.gov/pledge . This is the
first step in making sure you and your family are ready for an
emergency This includes filling out your family communications plan
that you can email to yourself, assembling an emergency kit , keeping
important papers and valuables in a safe place, and getting involved.

With the start of hurricanes season it is even more important to know
your risk, take action, and be an example. While hurricanes often offer
some warning that a threat is approaching, severe weather can occur at
anytime and in any place, including high winds, inland flooding, severe
storms and tornadoes.

For more on family preparedness, visit
http://www.ready.gov/hurricanes for more planning information and
safety tips.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to
ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve
our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover
from, and mitigate all hazards.

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