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  • Writer's picturejeannettesutton

Practice with your alerting software, please.


Water distribution alerts

While you cannot tell it by reading these short WEAs that were issued within about 25 minutes of each other, These messages had the potential to meet all of the guidance found in the research-based Warning Response Model. The reason you cannot tell that is because the complete message was posted in the “instructions” field of the alerting software. This is the field that will not show up in any phone that is not an iPhone with the latest software installed (See FEMA-IPAWS Tip).


Instead, the alerting authority wrote a 90-character message that was replicated in the 360—character field. The longer message said:

“If you are affected by the PSA water outage, drinking water is available, Friday, 1/27/23

from 8:30-11pm at the Elliston Volunteer Fire Dept. (5001 Enterprise Dr.). If you need

assistance obtaining the water, call 540-391-4481.”

Its little wonder why a second “360-character” message was sent clarifying who should call for water assistance.


The value of practicing with your alerting software really cannot be understated. When incomplete messages are issued, not only does it cause confusion among message receivers, it also requires time and resources to correct and clarify missteps that could have been avoided.

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