The recent false Hawaiian missile alert reminded us that we can get forewarning to help us survive even extreme events like inbound missiles. That same system will send us alerts about extreme weather and evacuation orders, but it doesn’t cover everything a prepper might be concerned with.
What if you want alerts about terrorism, pandemics, your local crime or weather conditions, and any specific SHTF scenarios you’re watching out for?
Plenty of organizations offer alert services of course. Unfortunately, signing up for alerts from news organizations can be a little annoying. Sure, you might want an alert for a projected hurricane landfall, but most news organizations, and preppers sites, are going to send you a lot of alerts, and not many of them actual emergency info.
So what alerts should you sign up for? Here are our best nine sources of prepper alerts.
1. Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA)
Automatically sent to your mobile phone, the WEAs are for the direst of emergencies only. This is the system through with the Hawaiian missile alert was sent. FEMA, the FCC, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Weather Service may all send an alert through the system.
Your local government will also have access to the system. The alerts from these various agencies are gathered at Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) stations and then sent to you.
You should ensure you have a phone capable of receiving these alerts. If you’re not sure, your mobile carrier will be able to tell you if your phone can receive them.
Alerts you might receive from through IPAWS:
- extreme weather
- evacuation orders
- AMBER alerts
- news of national emergencies
The alerts are specific to your area, so you won’t receive alerts that are not relevant to you. When one of these messages comes in, your phone will make a unique noise and vibrate, twice. If you’re on a call, the alert will wait until you’re done.
2. Weather Apps
If you’re not in the United States, or if you want more than just the extreme weather alerts, you can download one of the many apps built on your country’s weather services.
For example, many apps are built on America’s NOAA, which does not maintain it’s own dedicated app. You might consider these:
- Dark Sky
- National Weather Service Now (unofficial NOAA-based app)
- Weather Underground (does not use NOAA data)
This company offers local authorities the ability to text their constituents with emergency information. According to Nixile’s website, 8,000 public safety organizations use their service.
The texts have helped with everything from finding missing children, to finding bombing suspects, to alerting people about the exact locations of tornadoes, water main breaks, and much more.
It’s possible your local agencies are already signed up. In that case, you just have to text Nixile to start receiving updates. If not, your local organizations might be using a different service, you’ll have to contact them to find out.
4. National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS)
You can sign up for NTAS bulletins and alerts online, to receive by email. They also have a Facebook and Twitter page specifically for this purpose. The bulletins are less useful than the alerts but still important, detailing the general trend of terrorist threats against the United States. Bulletins are only issued once every few months.
On the other hand, alerts deal with specific terrorist threats. Elevated alerts provide you with reasonable protective measures you should take against specific threats the Department of Homeland Security thinks is credible. Imminent alerts provide slightly more detailed information for attacks the DHS believes are imminent.
5. FEMA App
The Federal Emergency Management Agency maintains its own app with weather alerts and general preparedness information, including where to find shelters (including directions to them!) and how to deal with incoming disasters.
The app is available for Android and Apple, and is really straightforward. You can even add in five locations, so you can get alerts for family members in other parts of the country, which you can use to alert your non-prepper family members to situations they might face.
6. CDC Alerts
The Center for Disease Control offers an alert system through emails and text messages. You can choose to receive these alerts on a variety of health topics.
For preppers, the emerging infectious disease, zoonotic infectious diseases, bioterrorism, and emergency preparedness and response topics are the most relevant. You can also choose the frequency of these alerts, from immediately to daily and weekly.
Also, they have over 40 RSS feeds you can subscribe to for updates on all sort of health information. Some of these are disease-specific, so if you’re interested in just Cancer research or just diabetes research you can choose those.
7. US-CERT Alerts
The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team offers alerts either to email or RSS feeds. If you happen to understand technical computer security issues, these alerts will help you stay abreast of national cyber threats.
There have only been seven alerts this year, for truly serious issues. However, for the computer layman, like myself, they aren’t all that useful.
8. Google Alerts
Sometimes preppers are focused on unusual events: Coronal Mass Ejections and rare astronomical events, stock market dips, downgrades of the US credit system/other signs of financial downturn, food shortages, outbreaks, etc. Or, sometimes you only want alerts for your specific area. Google Alerts can accomplish both of these goals.
Usually, people use Google Alerts to keep track of their online presence, or of topics that matter for their professional lives. However, you can easily use the service to keep track of prepper topics which interest you. To show how this works let’s use “coronal mass ejection.”
If you sign up for alerts about CMEs, I suggest you narrow the frequency of the alerts to no more than once a day. You can do this right when you create the alert, under the “show option” link. That way, if some new study is published about CMEs and every science news outlet covers it, you don’t get hundreds of alerts, just one per day. You might even change the alert, while the news covers this study, to once a week.
You can also change the sources for the alerts, to just cover news, blogs, videos, books, or other select sources. But, because the alert you’re signing up for is likely about a very niche subject, like CMEs, I suggest you leave the sources “automatic,” to cover everything.
You can also refine your alert to only focus on the United States, in the advanced options section. If you want even more specific information, include your state in the alert’s search term. For example, the alert term: “earthquake Hawaii” you’d have received an alert about two minor earthquakes in Hawaii on June 25 and 26.
Other terms are less helpful. For example, if you had set up an “epidemic” alert from Google, over the last few days you would have received alerts for articles published about the opioid epidemic, an “epidemic” of suicides, an epidemic in Nigeria, and potential superbug “epidemics”.
Instead of giving you relevant info, this alert will just annoy you. So, try to make your google alerts as specific as you can. Instead of “epidemic,” “flu Ohio” gets much more relevant results.
9. Twitter Feed
It’s also possible to use Twitter as a kind of alert service. You’ll have to open up Twitter to see the alerts of course, but if you make a separate Twitter account and only follow organizations that mostly publish emergency information you’re interested in.
For example, you can follow your local police, your local government officials, your local Department of Health and Social Services. There are also a few accounts that provide national information that might be of interest to you:
As with their RSS feeds, the CDC has a ton of Twitter feeds you can follow. The most useful for preppers include:
- @CDCgov (includes recall information)
- @CDCEnvironment (includes weather information)
- @CDC_EIDjournal (EID stands for emerging infectious diseases)
- @CDC_NCEZID (this account focuses on animal vector diseases, like Zika, but it also retweets recalls and emerging infections)
This is by no means an exhaustive list of good places to get prepper-related alerts. Please share any organizations or services you use as a kind of prepper alert!
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