I have a 1 month-old Samsung Galaxy S4. It’s a cool phone, but I got a message today I wasn’t expecting.
I got a Wireless Emergency Alert, but that’s not the message I’m talking about.
Wireless Emergency Alerts are those alerts that go to most newer phones and send messages from the National Weather Service and others about emergency situations. The program has just gotten started but will spread to most counties and cities over time, we think.
Right after the alert showed, though, was a message like the headline above helpfully explaining how I could disable the emergency alerts on my phone.
Now I understand why folks might want to disable these alerts. There have been a number of news stories lately about phone alerts at 2AM and 3AM, etc. waking people up to tell them about missing kids, flash floods and other such things.
Please folks, if you are going to disable the emergency notifications on your phone, sign up for your local emergency alert service and opt for text messaging. You can sign up at www.usnear.org.
The alerts will come as normal text messages, which means you control how they sound and when. And there’s no cost to you other than text messaging charges.
This way, you get the valuable information in these alerts but you also get to control whether your sleep is disturbed.
Thanks to Wireless Emergency Alerts on phones, the Twitterverse is full of people talking about the alerts they get.
Many of these are flash flood warnings. What do you do with these?
First, don’t freak out. Chances are good you’re safe where you are, especially if you are paying attention. Most the deaths caused by flash floods are in vehicles, so if you’re at home and don’t live in a flood plain – relax.
Second, be aware. If you know your geography, you can understand your risk. For example, if you don’t live near a stream bed or water drainage, you’re probably not at risk – at least not at home. And it matters what state you live in. According floodsafety.com, the most dangerous states for flood deaths are Texas, South Dakota, California, Virginia and West Virginia, with Texas at the very top. Flash floods can happen in any state, but are much more likely in some states – ironically, especially in drier climates.
Third, if you are in a vehicle, don’t try to drive through water. It only takes a few inches of moving water to sweep even a Hummer away. And that’s where most deaths occur. And the risk is real. The National Weather Service says more people die yearly in floods than by lightning, tornadoes, or hurricanes. And stay away from low lying roads where water might gather.
So don’t panic when you get a flash flood warning. Chances are good that you’re fine. But be smart and be safe.