As we look outside there a reminder that it's only been a few days since Nebraska’s first blizzard of the season. While that was going on Wednesday, for the first time, many people received a loud alert on their cell phones. But just as many people didn’t receive an alert.
It’s a part of the Commercial Mobile Alert System, also known as CMAS. It allows the government to send an emergency alert to specific areas, through cell towers. It has nothing to do with the area code of your cell phone but instead where you are located.
Michelle Nealon didn’t receive the alert on her phone but wishes she did.
“My phone is right next to my bed and charging, so I immediately look at my phone not my TV,” said Nealon.
The blizzard came through Hastings, where she lives, on Wednesday.
“That blizzard scared us to pieces, it was really nerve racking and we had our candles ready. Our flash lights ready. So it really did help and it really can help,” said Nealon.
She has an iPhone 4 and didn't get an alert but wishes she did.
“When it comes to weather, we are so vulnerable today with hurricane sandy coming all the tornados happening in the south,” said Nealon.
That is exactly why the alerts went out in the first place. They were issued by the FCC in a partnership with FEMA and the wireless industry.
Nealon thinks it's a great idea and feels like there are times when a cell phone is the only way to alert you of danger.
So why did some people receive alerts and others didn't? Well it's based entirely on your carrier and the type of cell phone you have. Newer phones are more likely to have the updated software that includes the alerts.
The system works side by side with the wireless emergency alerts. All major carriers participate in the FEMA program.
How to shut off the alert:
iPhone users: go in to your phone's settings, click on notifications, and then select 'off' under the government alerts area.
Android users: go into the messaging part of your android phone like you are sending a text message, then into messaging settings, here you will find the emergency alert settings. You can check and uncheck the boxes.
Alerts are issued for tornado warnings, tsunami warnings, extreme wind warnings, flash flood warnings, hurricane warnings, typhoon warnings, blizzard warnings, ice storm warnings, lake effect snow warnings and dust storm warnings. They also are issued during Amber Alerts and presidential disaster alerts in your area.