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TRUSTDale Tip of the Day: *New Emergency Text Alerts for the U.S.

Throughout 2012 wireless carriers in the United States will be rolling out the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system, a way to deliver emergency alerts to your mobile phone, free of charge. The WEA system interfaces with the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) which is a partnership between FEMA, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and wireless carriers, to enhance public safety.

The basic premise of the system is to send out a text alert to all mobile devices in a certain geographic area. For example, if you live in a county that is under a tornado warning, you'll get an alert. Also, if you happen to be visiting that county when the alert is active you'll get the alert too. All major cell carriers, as well as hundreds of smaller carriers will be participating, and there will be no charge to receive the text alerts.

The alerts will use a unique ring tone and vibration to differentiate from a regular text message.

Wireless carriers are currently selling devices that are capable of receiving the WEA messages, and while not all phones are able to get the alerts, most commercially available handsets will be WEA ready by 2014.

Lists of CMAS/WEA-capable handsets are available from your individual wireless carrier. Click here to see if your phone is alert-capable.