Emergency alerts on your Android smartphone are a good thing — even if they are a bit annoying sometimes!
Every so often — or frequently, depending on your tolerance level — you get an emergency alert on your phone. That horrible blaring of the emergency tone, the buzzing the vibration motor, and then the grim news. Someone’s missing. Or there’s a severe weather alert headed your way. Suddenly and without warning, your phone’s scaring the hell out of you. It’s bad enough during the day, and downright dreadful in the dead of night.
And that’s the idea.
The U.S. carriers have worked with the federal government to come up with a way to push alerts to your Android smartphone to warn you about dangerous weather, missing persons or other matters of grave national importance. The point is they want you to see this information in hopes that it could save your life — or someone else’s.
Here’s what you need to know about these emergency alerts and how you can control them on your Android phone.
What kind of emergency alerts are there?
There are three (or four, depending on how you’re counting) types of emergency alerts you can receive on your Android. They’re grouped into the less-dangerous-sounding “Cell Broadcast” heading, and include:
Extreme threats: Classified as threats to your life and property, like an impending catastrophic weather event like a hurricane or tsunami.
Severe threats: Less serious than the extreme threats, these could be the same types of situations, but on a smaller scale — stay safe, but you won’t need to pack up the car and head for the hills.
AMBER alerts: These are specific alerts aimed at locating a missing child. Technically AMBER stands for “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.” But it was named for Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old who was kidnapped and killed in 1996.