Kudos to Waukegan, IL, which used their emergency alert system to warn people of the dangers of sleeping with their infant. There were three recent infant deaths in the past three weeks. This is a use of emergency alerts we haven’t heard about and we applaud that use.
Unfortunately, the key target audience for these messages probably won’t get them. According to our model, about 37% of households in Lake County, IL, where Waukegan is located, are “wireless only”, meaning they don’t have a home phone. And 25-34 year olds (the people who have infant children) are almost twice as likely not to have a home phone.
Without a home phone, the only way a “reverse 911” message gets to someone is if they register. But we tried registering on Waukegan’s registration page using our Android smartphone and we couldn’t get to the page. Since young people primarily use their phones to access the Internet, we’d guess that very few wireless-only young parents are registered with the emergency alert service.
Which means that more than half of the parents of infant children won’t get that message. And that’s a shame, because the basic idea was a good one.
Which is one more reason why people should use the US National Emergency Alert Registry to sign up for their local emergency alert service. USNEAR has a registration page formatted for mobile phones and will get the data transferred to Waukegan’s pages without a problem.