AMBER Alert shocks cell phone users

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Cell phones screeched two different kind of alerts during the last week, shocking many in Hampton Roads. 10 On Your Side has gathered some information about these special warnings.

Saturday night an Amber Alert informed the public that 15-year-old Dustin Shaver had been abducted in Pittsylvania County. It also provided suspect and vehicle information so the public could be on the look-out. Similarly, many Hampton Roads residents were awakened to a tornado alert in the middle of the night last week.AMBER Alerts WEA generic

These are two of four types of warnings you may automatically receive, if you have a cell phone: extreme weather warnings, local emergencies requiring evacuation or immediate action, AMBER Alerts, and Presidential Alerts during a national emergency.

The warnings are sent to millions of Americans every year through the Wireless Emergency Alert program or WEA. The messages are broadcast using radio-like technology from cell towers.

Wireless Emergency Alerts WEA genericThat means an alert can reach cell phones outside of the actual warning area, depending on the broadcast range of the cell towers. All of the warnings are a free public service, and you can opt out off all of them, but one type: Presidential Alerts.

The way you opt out is different, depending on what type of phone you have. But in general, cell phone users can go under “settings” or “apps” and find the emergency or government alerts and un-check the box.

If you have trouble finding it, call your cell phone provider for assistance.

For more information about Wireless Emergency Alerts and to find out if your mobile device is WEA capable, click here.

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