Emergency Alerts

Residents should have several ways to receive critical, life safety information during an emergency. Federal, state and local public safety officials will use the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System to send emergency information directly to mobile devices, local broadcast stations and other public alerting systems from a single interface. IPAWS is a modernization and integration of the nation’s alert and warning infrastructure and will save time when time matters most, protecting life and property. Only authorized alerting authorities may send emergency alerts using IPAWS.

Wireless Emergency Alerts

Wireless Emergency Alerts are one component of IPAWS. WEAs can be sent by state and local public safety officials, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the president of the United States.

  • WEAs look like text messages but are designed to get your attention with a unique sound and vibration repeated twice.
  • WEAs are no more than 360 characters and include the type and time of the alert, any action you should take and the agency issuing the alert.
  • WEAs are not affected by network congestion and will not disrupt texts, calls or data sessions that are in progress.
  • You are not charged for receiving WEAs and there is no need to subscribe.

Frequently asked questions about Wireless Emergency Alerts

Emergency Alert System

The Emergency Alert System allows state and local governments, in partnership with the broadcast industry, to provide emergency alerts, information and instructions to the public. IPAWS integrates EAS into a common system to aid in the distribution of emergency messaging to the public via the internet and mobile devices.

The South Carolina Broadcasters Association coordinates statewide Emergency Alert System planning efforts with local broadcasters and SCEMD. 

The Federal Communications Commission establishes technical standards for EAS participants, procedures for EAS participants to follow in the event the system is activated, and testing protocols for EAS participants.

NOTE: SCEMD and the state’s broadcasters do not control how cable television providers choose to broadcast Emergency Alert System messages over their networks. If you experience issues with emergency alerts through your cable service, please contact your cable TV provider directly for technical support.

NOAA Weather Radio

NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations that broadcast continuous weather information from the nearest National Weather Service office based on your physical location. SCEMD recommends having a NOAA Weather Radio for your home and business. Remember to change the batteries of your NOAA Weather Radio and your smoke detectors at the same time.

  • NWR broadcasts official warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • NWR also broadcasts alerts of non-weather emergencies such as national security or public safety threats through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System.

CodeRED Notifications

SCEMD and local emergency managers use CodeRED Alerts to send residents important public safety information about local incidents that are not immediately life threatening. CodeRED uses a database of landline telephone numbers along with subscribed mobile numbers and emails to send information.
Learn more about CodeRED Emergency Notifications