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    Turn Your Phone Into an Early Warning System

    Q. What is the best way to get emergency weather alerts and information as quickly as possible on my phone?
    A. Unless you have disabled the feature, your smartphone is probably set to automatically receive free Wireless Emergency Alerts issued by government agencies. These messages can warn ofextreme weather situations in your area, local emergencies that require some sort of immediate action or evacuation, andAmber Alerts regarding missing children. The system can also broadcastPresidential alerts in a national crisis.
    If you suspect the emergency alerts have been turned off on your device, check your settings. These controls may differ based on your version of Android, but try opening the Settings icon, tapping More under Wireless & Networks and looking for the Cell Broadcasts options. In recent versions of iOS, open the Settings app, tap Notifications and scroll to the bottom of the screen to Government Alerts to check if the options for Amber Alerts and Emergency Alerts are enabled.
    Tornadoes, floods, excessive heat and wildfires have already affected parts of the country this year, and the heart of hurricane season looms for many coastal states. If you want more than the stock weather program that may have come with your phone, app stores are full of free and paid weather programs that bring along detailed maps, forecasts, to-the-minute precipitation predictions and emergency alerts to your device. Just search for “weather.”
    If you are a Twitter user, you can sign up for Twitter Alerts that push out tweets or text messages from public agencies in emergency situations, including earthquakes or warnings related to the spread of the Zika virus. To sign up for Twitter Alerts, visit the site’s page of participating organizations and select the agencies you wish to use.
    The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States Geological Survey, the State Departmentand the Department of Homeland Security are among the national agencies listed. Dozens of international and state-government resources are available, too. (In New York City, the Notify NYC feed can be very helpful.)
    The Google Public Alerts system from the Google Crisis Response Teammay also be useful for getting information before or during natural disasters. Available for desktop as well as mobile browsers, the Public Alerts map shows where emergencies are happening around the world, and offers links to traffic, weather, evacuation resources and more.
    For general preparation, the Ready.gov site has articles on what to do in case of hurricanes, flash floods, extreme heat waves and other events. The site dutifully reminds its visitors that September is National Preparedness Month and provides a link to the official FEMA app and other resources.

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