Wireless Emergency Alerts

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Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are free notifications delivered to your mobile device as part of a public safety system provided by Authorized Senders. The alerts are designed to inform you of imminent threats to safety or missing persons alerts in your area (e.g., AMBER Alerts).

To receive WEAs, you must have a capable device and be located in an area (e.g., county) targeted by Authorized Senders to receive the alert.


Wireless Emergency Alerts and updates from SCEMD and other official authorized sources will provide the following information:

  • Alert Category
  • Event Type
  • Response
  • Severity
  • Urgency
  • Certainty

View a list of current Authorized Alerting Authorities in South Carolina.



I’ve received a Wireless Emergency Alert. What should I do to ensure my safety or obtain additional information?

Review the information included in the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) that you received, and follow any instructions that may be listed. Authorized Senders may also release updates to WEAs with further information as needed. Please watch for subsequent updates and review them carefully for new details.

Why did I receive a Wireless Emergency Alert?

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are broadcast in a geographical area to inform WEA capable subscribers of imminent threats to safety or missing persons reports in your area. Authorized Senders issue these alerts only within strict guidelines and when they feel it's necessary to do so.

If you received a WEA, you're within the geographical location being targeted by the Authorized Sender. You should review the information in the alert carefully and proceed as directed.

Why did I receive a test Wireless Emergency Alert?

Participating carriers are required to support monthly test alerts of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) system. Only specific persons within the carrier’s network employees, or within specific emergency response agencies should receive these alerts.

If you're receiving test alerts, we thank you for your patience. The manufacturer of your device should release a silent, over the air fix to prevent further receipt of test alerts.

Why did I receive multiple or duplicate Wireless Emergency Alerts?

Devices compatible with Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are designed to reject duplicate alerts. Occasionally, Authorized Senders will issue updates to WEAs with new information and a new alert ID. These updates may be very similar to the original alert but will contain supplementary information.

Will I receive local or "home" Wireless Emergency Alerts while roaming or traveling?

No, only devices compatible with Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) and geographically located within the targeted geographical areas should receive these alerts. Alerts aren't delivered to any device outside of that area.

How do I know if my device is capable of receiving government Wireless Emergency Alerts?

Devices capable of receiving Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are marked on the retail callout card and at the manufacturer equipment descriptions online with the Wireless Emergency Alert Capable logo:

Is there anything I can do to make my device capable of receiving Wireless Emergency Alerts?

Special software and hardware changes are necessary to support Wireless Emergency Alert capabilities. Unfortunately, these changes can't be retrofitted to older model devices.

I believe I was in a targeted geographic alert zone. Why didn’t I receive a Wireless Emergency Alert?

Wireless Emergency Alerts are sent to cell sites providing wireless service to very specific areas. Your device may have been receiving service in a different area, or even from an adjacent area cell site, which wasn't targeted by the alert.

Most WEA alerts will be re-broadcast several times to reach the maximum number of devices in the targeted area. Once a device has received an alert, it won't accept duplicate or identical alerts.

Note: Alerts will only be received by capable devices. Without a capable device, you won't receive an alert even if you are within the targeted geographic location.

I have a device compatible with Wireless Emergency Alerts. I am traveling today, but I did not receive an alert. Why?

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are geographically targeted. Only subscribers with WEA capable devices located within the targeted alert zone will receive alerts.

WEA capable devices operating outside of the targeted geographical areas won't receive those alerts.

I have a messaging block for my phone, will I still receive a Wireless Emergency Alert?

Yes, you will. WEA alerts aren’t sent as text or multimedia messages and therefore aren’t blocked by messaging block.

Will I be charged for receiving a Wireless Emergency Alert?

No, we provide Wireless Emergency Alerts for FREE.

Can I opt out of receiving Wireless Emergency Alerts?

Yes, you may change your device’s settings to opt out of Imminent Danger and AMBER Alerts, but you can’t opt out of Presidential Alerts. Check your device’s User Guide for instructions

These are the three types of Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA):

  • Presidential Alerts: About news of national authority concern
  • Imminent Danger Alerts: Severe and Extreme alerts about weather events and threat levels
  • AMBER Alerts: About the disappearance of persons (minor or otherwise)
Is the government tracking my location as part of the Wireless Emergency Alert system?

No, your location isn't requested, provided or maintained in the delivery of a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA). WEAs are broadcasted within counties or zones determined by Authorized Senders. All devices compatible with WEA that are located within a targeted zone will receive these alerts.

I have the same, or similar, device as someone I know who received a Wireless Emergency Alert. Why didn’t I receive this alert?

Devices are released containing differing revisions of software and firmware. Earlier devices of the same or similar model may not be capable of receiving the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs). If your device is compatible with WEA and you were located within the targeted location for the alert at the time it was sent, you’ll receive the alert. If not, your device won’t receive them.

What geographic locations will receive Wireless Emergency Alerts?

Authorized Senders determine which locations will receive a specific alert based on the area defined by the geographical latitude and longitude of the emergency. As circumstances dictate, Authorized Senders will identify targeted areas for each specific alert. Devices compatible with Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) that are operating within the area targeted will receive the WEA. Those devices operating in areas not targeted by Authorized Senders won't receive the alert.

If I’m on a call or using data when a Wireless Emergency Alert is released, will I receive the alert?

No, if you're engaged in a voice or data session when alerts are released, you won't receive the alert. Alerts may be re-broadcast at specific intervals in the targeted geographic locations to reach as many devices as possible. However, after that interval has concluded, or the alerts have been superseded, the original alert will no longer be released.

I know a Wireless Emergency Alert was issued, why didn’t I receive it?

There will be times when you may not receive a Wireless Emergency Alert. There are many reasons this may happen. Here are a few:

  • You do not have adequate cell reception.
  • Your mobile phone is turned off or set to airplane mode.
  • Your mobile phone is not connected to a cell site broadcasting the alert; instead it could be synced to a cell site nearby that is not broadcasting the alert.
  • Your mobile phone is connected to a cell site that is currently undergoing maintenance or is out of service.
  • You have opted out of receiving alerts on your mobile phone. The location of the alerts opt in/out menu depends on the phone make and model, but typically is in the notification settings menu.
  • Some mobile phones will not present an alert if the phone is being used for a call or in an active data session; this varies by make and model.

NOTE: If your mobile phone continues to receive the same WEA over and over it is most likely an issue with the device; mobile phones should ignore subsequent re-broadcasts of a WEA but sometimes a device gets stuck in a loop repeatedly alerting for the same WEA; powering off the device and turning it back on may help.