How to Opt Out Of Emergency Alerts On Your Cell Phone

More and more these days people receive alerts via their cell phones. From storm alerts to amber alerts, almost everyone has gotten at least one.

The Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), which is also known as the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) or Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN), is a national emergency alert system to send concise, text-like messages to users’ WEA-capable mobile devices. The bill authorizing the WEA was signed into law in April 2012, and all the major wireless providers have signed-off (agreed) to participate in the emergency alert system.

There are three different kinds of alerts:

  1. Presidential Alerts – Alerts issued by the President or a designee;
  2. Imminent Threat Alerts – Alerts that include severe man-made or natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc., where an imminent threat to life or property exists; and
  3. AMBER Alerts– Alerts that meet the U.S. Department of Justice’s criteria to help law enforcement search for and locate an abducted child.

While these alerts will appear on a person’s mobile device similar to a text message, Wireless Emergency Alerts are not text messages. Instead, Wireless Emergency Alerts use a different kind of technology to ensure they are delivered immediately and are not subjected to potential congestion (or delays) on wireless networks. For those who wish to not get these messages, here is How to Opt Out Of Emergency Alerts On Your Device

How does this work

In a nutshell, if your phone is on, it is connected to the nearest cell phone tower it can find, and it will stay connected to that tower until the phone finds another tower that it thinks is closer. If a message needs to get sent out, the cell phone companies will send out the message to the designated towers and if your phone is connected to one of these towers you get the alert.


One of the complaints of the messaging system is that it will alert you, with sound even if your phone is on silent or vibrate (and that sound is loud), and the messages can be sent at any time, 24 hours a day. One alert in California, where an amber alert was sent out was sent in the middle of the night (about 2am or so) waking up and freighting a large number of people who were not expecting to hear that go off while they were fast asleep.

In the following report by Tech Feed,  Annie talks about the wireless alert system and the California alert and shows you some ways to opt out of the alerts.


To turn off the alerts on an iPhone

  • tap open the Settings icon
  • tap Notifications and scroll down the screen to Government Alerts, select it
  • this is where Amber and Emergency alerts can be turned off or on.


For most Android phones

  • open the Messaging app
  • press the Menu button and then Settings
  • From there, scroll until you see Emergency Alerts, select it
  • this is the screen where you can turn off Amber and weather notifications.

Additional questions/answers can be found on the FEMA website


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