Kansas City, MO – One of Midland Radio Corporation’s primary goals is to help save lives by sharing the importance of emergency preparedness at home, school, and at work. Thanks to a partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Weather Service (NWS), new Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) will be launched this month. WEA is another tool to inform the public of local natural and man-made disasters such as tornadoes and flash flooding. Major cell phone companies across the U.S. will send free text message-like alerts to users who may be in the path of danger. However, the WEA messages are not always suitable as a primary method to receive warnings, and only some people will end up receiving these alerts.
Only about ten percent of phones in use today are capable of receiving the WEA broadcast. This means that the remaining 90 percent of phone owners will need to wait for potential software upgrades (only available for newer model smart phones) or buy a new WEA-enabled device in order to receive the alerts. In comparison, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Weather Radio broadcasts 24/7 to anyone with weather band equipped radios, which are available at select retail stores nationwide at a fraction of the cost of a smart phone. Portable weather radios, such as the Midland HH54VP and HH50, will even alert users to local dangers while traveling or away from home.
Detailed information is broadcast over NOAA Weather Radio as soon as a watch, warning or advisory is issued by the National Weather Service. The new WEA text broadcasts are limited in length and will only contain very basic information, requiring the recipient to turn to other sources for further details. “For those who are away from their usual warning outlets, maybe outdoors or inside a movie theater, these warnings can alert you to danger,” said Caitlin McArdle, a meteorologist at Midland Radio. “However, because WEA messages are too short to include the exact location and forecasted movement of a dangerous storm, it would be safer to have multiple ways of receiving warning information.”
The Department of Homeland Security and the National Weather Service recommend a NOAA All Hazards Weather Alert Radio in every home and business. Weather Radio has been called the “indoor tornado siren” for its ability to alert you to dangerous weather, even when you’re asleep. While the WEA messages will feature a unique ringtone and vibration, these features may not be enough to wake you up if you are sleeping, and your phone will not repeat the alert.
“While WEA is an excellent extra resource to promote weather awareness, it should not be a stand-alone method for receiving vital information,” said McArdle. “The only thing I trust to wake me up in the middle of the night is a weather radio.”
For more information about weather radios and emergency preparedness, visit www.midlandusa.com.