Billie and Robert Nicholson
Public safety officials depend on an emergency alert system (EAS) to notify communities in the event of a disaster. This national public warning system requires all broadcast media to provide the President with a communication capability to address the American people within 10 minutes during a national emergency. EAS can also be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information, such as weather information, imminent threats, AMBER alerts, and local incident information targeted to specific areas. Activated by the President and the responsibility of FEMA, EAS is available when all other means of alerting people are unavailable.1
The state of North Carolina participates in the national emergency alert system. State alerts are developed at the direction of the state governor. The state is divided into ten regions. Any emergency broadcasts released that affect this area are received in Raleigh and rebroadcast to the 10 local area emergency alert systems. Western NC relies on information rebroadcast from Asheville. Channels WMIT-FM 106.9 and WKSF-FM 99.9 and National Weather Service channel WXL-56 (162.400 MHZ) monitor and relay emergency alerts to all other radio and television stations in the Asheville area. If you are at an extreme distance from WXL-56, you might try WXJ-21 in Greenville, SC (162.550 MHz).2
The Town of Lake Lure has instituted the CodeRed™ – Emergency Notification System. This is an ultra high-speed telephone communication service used to notify local residents in case of emergency situations that require immediate action via telephone message. In order to receive these notifications, you must submit registration information online at Emergency CodeRed™.3
During an emergency, officials often need to communicate life-saving information quickly. In addition to the other emergency services available like NOAA weather radio, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) also provides a wireless emergency alert system (WEA). With WEA, warnings can be sent to your mobile device when you may be in harm’s way. You do not need to download an app or subscribe to a service.
WEAs look like a text message. The message will show the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, and the agency issuing the alert, all within 90 characters. They are accompanied by a special tone and vibration, both repeated twice.
The National Weather Service sends out tsunami warnings, tornado and flash flood warnings, hurricane, typhoon, dust storm and extreme wind warnings. AMBER alerts are urgent bulletins regarding serious child-abduction cases issued by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in coordination with public safety officials.
If you have a WEA-capable phone and your wireless carrier participates (over 100 do) and you travel into a threat area after an alert is first sent, your WEA-capable device will receive the message. Wireless Emergency alert messages are provided free by wireless carriers and will not count toward texting limits. These messages will not be affected by network congestion and will not interrupt an ongoing conversation.
Just like emergency weather alerts you see on local TV, WEAs are broadcast from area cell towers to all mobile devices in the area. Each WEA-capable phone within range receives the message but no one is monitoring where you are.
You may receive very few messages or you may receive frequent messages during an emergency as conditions change. The number will depend on the threat to life or property in your area.
You can opt-out of receiving WEA messages for imminent threats and AMBER alerts, but not for Presidential messages. To opt out, adjust settings on your mobile device.
Add this internet link to your emergency preparedness information for the North Carolina page of the Disaster Center: http://disastercenter.com/northcar/northcar.htm It contains contact information for federal, state, county and local disaster centers.
Billie and Robert Nicholson welcome your comments and questions. They can be reached at RustyBuggy.Inc@gmail.com