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Emergency Alerts: coming to your cell phone

When a serious emergency happens near you, you’ll be glad to know that Gwinnett County can now alert you on your cell phone.

Charlotte Nash, Chairman Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners

The new wireless emergency alerts (WEA) will be sent by the County’s Office of Emergency Management to let you know about fires, hazardous materials, local emergencies, shelter-in-place warnings, and evacuations when an imminent threat to safety is nearby.

Most mobile devices sold today are already set up to receive the one-way alerts. Prepaid mobile devices may also be WEA-capable. Unlike regular text messages, these alerts go to all devices in range of one or more specified cell towers and are not affected by network congestion. That means visitors to our area will receive the alerts, but you won’t get Gwinnett alerts when you are travelling elsewhere. All major wireless carriers participate in this service, and you will not be charged for WEA message delivery.

Alerts will include the time and type of alert and any action you should take. They will not duplicate AMBER alerts or extreme weather messages from the National Weather Service and alert messages will not disrupt text, calls, or data sessions that are in progress. 

WEA alerts have a unique audible signal and vibration cadence so everyone, including those with disabilities, will be aware of the text-like message coming in. If your phone is on silent or vibrate only, you’ll get the alert, but not the WEA sound.

Since most devices are already enabled, you don’t need to download an app or subscribe to a service to receive them. You may need to upgrade your device’s software or check your settings to make sure you can receive the alerts. There’s more information about wireless emergency alerts at

Gwinnett’s Office of Emergency Management is part of the Gwinnett County Police Department. They plan for emergencies and disasters, coordinate incident response, direct hazard mitigation, and help with recovery after an incident. They work very closely with other County departments, Gwinnett’s 16 cities, state agencies, and other private and nonprofit partners to accomplish those goals.

Wireless emergency alerts can help save lives during an emergency, so please don’t ignore them. The alerts will include any actions you should take to stay safe and remind you to check local news sources for more information.

I’m glad for the ability to use this technology to help get the word out faster when an emergency threatens. The life it saves could be yours.