This section contains information about resources the American public can use to learn more about how to receive and appropriately respond to alerts and warnings from public safety officials.
The American public is the foundation of all partner groups and the primary reason the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Program Management Office (PMO) works to create an effective, reliable, integrated, flexible and comprehensive public alert and warning system. The IPAWS PMO works to ensure all segments of the population understand the functions of IPAWS and how to appropriately respond to alerts and warnings from public safety officials.
The IPAWS PMO, in partnership with state, local, tribal and teritorial alerting authorities, public- and private-sector partners, federal partners, and non-profit and advocacy organizations, use opportunities and available venues to provide educational and actionable information to the American public.
When a child goes missing, rapid and effective public alerts often play a crucial role in returning that child to safety. For this reason, the IPAWS PMO has partnered with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to ensure that life-saving AMBER Alerts can be disseminated to as many people as possible.
The AMBER Alert Program, also known as America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response Plan, is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, and transportation agencies to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases. The goal of an AMBER Alert is to instantly enable the entire community to assist in the search for and safe recovery of the child.
When law enforcement has been notified about an abducted child, they determine whether the case meets their AMBER Alert program’s criteria. If it does, alert information is assembled, including descriptions and pictures of the missing child, the suspected abductor, and suspected vehicle along with any other information available and valuable to identifying the child and suspect.
Historically, this information has been disseminated through the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which leverages the communication support of radio, television, cable, and satellite providers (EAS participants) and NOAA Weather Radio. In addition, AMBER Alerts may now also be disseminated via Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). Localities may also use digital signage or other alerting technologies if they are available.
IPAWS and Ready.gov
The IPAWS PMO, in partnership with Ready.gov, has created public education products that are designed to ensure the American public understand the functions of the public alert and warning system, prepare for emergencies, and how to access, use, and respond to information from public safety officials.
Public Service Announcements (PSA) for TV and radio, in English and Spanish, were released in June 2013 and were created as a means to draw the public’s attention to Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) and how they are an important lifesaving tool. The PSAs are intended to educate the public on what WEA is, how to recognize when a message is received, to heed the warning and take the prescribed protective action in the message, and directs viewers to learn more about life-saving alerts at www.ready.gov/alerts.
The IPAWS PMO encourages public safety officials to take full advantage of these products and work with local broadcasters to make the WEA PSAs a part of local public education campaigns by individualizing the PSA tagline. FEMA works with all public safety officials who are interested in incorporating these and other products into local efforts to educate the public about emergency alerts.
The IPAWS PMO and Ready.gov also developed a webpage with up-to-date information informing the public about how to prepare for emergencies. Ready.gov/alerts provides information about WEAs, the Emergency Alert System, and NOAA’s All Hazards Radio. The webpage hosts all the WEA PSAs as well as other helpful information for the public. The www.ready.gov/kids webpage provides information about WEAs and other age appropriate guidance. The IPAWS PMO and Ready.gov also created a WEA Fact Sheet and Word Search for Kids with accompanying instructional materials for parents, teachers and other educators.