Public Alert and Warning Infrastructures

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IPAWS

The Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS) is FEMA's national system for local alerting that provides authenticated emergency and life-saving information to the public through mobile phones using Wireless Emergency Alerts, to radio and television via the Emergency Alert System, and on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Weather Radio.

Guide for Alerts and Warnings

According to FEMA's 2021 National Household Survey, 44% of people who received information about how to get better prepared for a disaster received it via social media platforms. To aid the public in the understanding of hazards, FEMA has created a Guide for Alerts and Warnings. Learn the differences between alerts and how to react once you receive a notification.

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.

  • Messages can interrupt radio and television to broadcast emergency alert information.
  • Messages cover a large geographic footprint. Emergency message audio/text may be repeated twice, but EAS activation interrupts programming only once, then regular programming continues.
  • 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.

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)

The Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system delivers critical warnings and public safety information to the public on mobile devices. Participation by wireless service providers is voluntary, but most providers support WEAs. Those providers that participate adhere to technical and operational requirements established by the FCC. WEAs began in 2012 and should already be on your cellular phone or another wireless device.

What are Wireless Emergency Alerts?

  • Wireless Emergency Alerts, or WEAs, are free messages sent directly to your cellular phone, warning you about severe weather, AMBER Alerts, and threats to safety in your area.
  • WEAs are sent to you by your state and local public safety officials, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the President.
  • WEA notifications are designed to get your attention and alert you with a unique sound a vibration.
  • WEAs resemble a text message on your cellular phone. They will not interrupt calls in progress.
  • WEA messages allow alerts to be sent to cellular phones in a geographically targeted affected area.
  • WEAs are one-way alerts to any cell phone in range of the cell tower, which ensures that authorities cannot collect any data from an individual.
  • WEAs are not affected by network congestion.

Will I receive WEAs on my cell phone?

  • Verify device settings & notifications are correctly selected. Instructions are available for both iPhone and Android devices. 
  • All major providers participate in WEA on a voluntary basis. Contact your wireless provider for more information.
  • WEA messages can save lives. Do not ignore these messages! WEAs contain basic information so if you receive a WEA, seek additional information from other sources such as radio or TV.
  • Does your child have a cell phone? Learn about WEAs together - complete a fun WEA crossword puzzle!

How do I sign up for local alerts?

Are there other local emergency alerts I can sign up for?

The Washington State Emergency Management Division has a statewide list of emergency alerts. Visit their website find your local region and click the hyperlink. Follow the directions to opt into getting notices on your phone and via email and text.

FEMA and KIRO-AM Seattle Unveil New Emergency Broadcast Studio

FEMA and Bonneville Seattle have completed an important modernization at the emergency radio broadcast facility at Bonneville International’s KIRO-AM 710 in Seattle. This modernization project improves emergency alert systems that provide critical alerts and warnings to the public.

The KIRO-AM facility serves as a Primary Entry Point (PEP) station for FEMA’s National Public Warning System (NPWS), maintained under FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), and provides critical information to the public before, during and after incidents and disasters.

On Friday, November 19, 2021, KIRO Radio 97.3 FM partnered with FEMA and the King County Office of Emergency Management for a dedication ceremony at the site of the KIRO-AM transmitter on Vashon Island.