Emergency Officials Rolling Out New Emergency Alerts for Phones

Your cellphone may start receiving emergency messages you never asked for, like severe weather warnings or Amber Alerts, as early as this month.

The notices will appear much like text messages, although technically they’re not. There’s no charge for the notices, and they’ll automatically go to all phones that have the right software to get them. Users can opt out of receiving everything except messages issued directly from the White House.

Metro officials are concerned people will be scared when the first alerts come through, and emphasize that there’s no reason to react by calling 911.

Fire Chief Charles Shannon runs Metro Nashville’s Office of Emergency Management. He says the new tool is great, but it’s still not the primary means of getting word out about emergencies.

“We don’t want people to become lax, and not continue to listen to the Weather Radio, we don’t want them to be relaxed to the point that when they’re outside, they don’t pay attention to the Tornado Sirens”

Not every cellphone will be able to get the alerts. Officials are directing people to check with their carriers to find out if a specific phone is compatible.

Maria Ochoa Vargas also contributed to this report.

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