We see them on billboards and hear them on the radio. Now they're coming soon to your cell phone if they're not already: Amber Alerts, imminent threats, even alerts from the president.
Wireless Emergency Alerts are sent to your phone much like a text message. The point is to get an alert out to as many people as quickly as possible.
General manager Kyra Snyder at Illinois Signal says all future phones will have them and several pre-existing ones already do.
So what if you don't even subscribe to text messaging?
"Even if you are not subscribed to text messages, it will still come through your phone as an alert," said Snyder.
All new cell phones will be capable of getting these messages and you won't be charged for reading them. Any time one of these goes out, all WEA-enabled phones will get them, whether you have a text plan or not.
There are three types of alerts that will come in: Amber Alerts, imminent threats, and presidential alerts.
The imminent threats state and local warnings and those presidential messages would be something major where everyone in the country would need to know something right away.
But what if you don't want to get these messages?
In the phone settings you can shut off the imminent threats as well as the Amber Alerts, but you cannot do anything to get rid of the presidential threats. But, Snyder says, they should be pretty rare and if you do get one she says you might want to take a look at something like that anyway.
In fact, she says she's had this on her phone for seven months now and she's never gotten a WEA alert, so you may not have to worry about being bombarded with texts.
Adams County Sheriff Brent Fischer says something like this that would help get the word out would really serve the people well.
"Either it's to provide information or it's to warn them of any imminent harm or threats and so any time you can do that's going to be beneficial for us," Fischer said.
Fischer ads that in this tech-savvy world, it's important to keep up with technology. This technology kind of meets the chatting, texting, tech crowd where they are to get the word out.
"With technology, so many people have direct access to so many things right at their fingertips. Their iPad, their iPhone, their whatever," Fischer said. "Any kind of smart phone that they have. So this is another tool.. element.. resource.. for people to gain alerts."
Snyder says if you want these alerts and your phone is not WEA enabled, you would need to get a new phone that is.
"There's no software update or anything like that you can get but there are some applications you can get on Android phones that do send out Amber Alerts for your area so if you're just interested in that, you can get that, too," said Snyder.
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WGEM. All Rights Reserved.
Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Kathy Woodworth at 217-228-6617. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at firstname.lastname@example.org.