Emergency Alerts: Is There an App For That?


FEMA, Red Cross, local TV stations – lots of organizations are offering emergency alert apps for Smartphones. But are they accurate and informative enough to help you make a decision during community emergencies and natural disasters?

Emergency alerts via app are similar to the Federal EAS and WEA alert systems. They say “Hey there is a big problem!” but fail to offer much specific information and often refer you to check your local news and radio. Although good for reaching a lot of people in a geographic area, the problem is that natural disasters and community emergencies can affect adjoining areas differently. This is where a localized Reverse 911 emergency notification systems fill the gap. They are the most specific, authoritative alerts available and are sent from emergency responders on the scene – i.e. local fire, police, etc.

Here is what Reverse 911 services can do for you that an App cannot:

  • Issued directly from 911 call centers or your local Emergency Management Agency, no middle man means quicker alerts.
  • Alerts are sent for many issues too localized for an EAS alert, like a gas leak on your street, a missing person in the neighborhood or a local police action.
  • Message length is not limited to 90 characters like WEAs so you receive more information and will know what to do.
  • Alerts are specific to your location so precise instructions can be given in the message.
  • Most systems can call, text or email information to you.
  • Alerts are sent based on the locations you register, so you know if danger is near your home, work, day care or any other location of concern. Whether home or traveling across the country you get the message.
  • You can register for where elderly parents or others live, it does not matter if they are nearby or far off. Have the peace of mind that you will know if danger is near these loved ones.

Reverse 911 systems already have land line phone numbers, that’s good if you still have a land line and if you are home to answer the call. To receive alerts on your mobile device you must register. Register every cell phone in the household so everyone gets the alert as soon as possible. Remember to register for all your locations of concern.

A quote on the value of Reverse 911 from the Los Angeles police.   Their local system is called Alert LA County.

“Here are the main differences in the WEA alerts and the Alert LA County messages. Alert LA County is target specific. When we recognize a life threatening event, a disaster or potential to serious injury or death, we can pin-point an area using a mapping system to get out the message.”

Here is an example:

A suspect with a gun in a neighborhood. We can direct a message for those that live on streets A, B and C to remain in their houses with their doors lock. We could also send a message on the same incident for resident on D, E, and F streets to evacuate to a position north of the location and for streets X, Y and Z Streets to evacuate to a position to the south of the area. We would call every house that had a landline and every person’s cell phone that had registered with us.

Same goes for disasters where there is a fire in the area and we want certain people to evacuate north and others to evacuate south.  WEA cannot be as precise to affected areas.

We don’t send out general messages to the public and you would only get a message if it is directly affecting your area unlike WEA.”

Emergency alerts sent to your mobile device automatically or through apps are valuable but are not the best for most situations. Because you need the best information, register and in a few minutes you will have the protection of your local of Reverse 911 alerts; precise, informative, authoritative and free. Find the site to register on your local government web site or use the free national ZIP code search on www.safetyinformed.org.


Don't miss the call to evacuate or shelter-in-place

The first step in keeping your family safe is to register all your mobile phones with local Reverse911 services

Learn step-by-step how to set up Reverse911 and create an effective Emergency Plan to protect your whole family before, during, and after the most common emergencies. It's FREE to sign up.

Set up Reverse 911 Alerts