When bad weather strikes, severe weather alerts from your iPhone®, Android ™, or smart speaker, like the Amazon Echo ®, are some of the best ways to stay informed.
Thanks to the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system launched in 2012, people with compatible devices can receive messages alerting them to potential weather warnings for their area.
Instead of having to turn to the internet and ask, “Are there severe weather alerts near me?” you can set up your phone or smart speaker to alert you first. We'll show you how.
From how to set up severe weather alerts, to the best severe weather apps, to how to get the most out of your device's battery life, here are our tips on how to set up your tech to help you weather the storm.
How to turn on (and off) emergency alerts on Android
- Go to Settings > Connections > Safety and emergency > Wireless Emergency Alerts.
- Switch on Allow alerts.
- There you can choose which types of Emergency Alerts you want to receive.
Depending on the type of Android you have, the steps could look a little different. You can always tap the search box at the top of the screen in Settings, and type “Emergency Alerts.” There you can choose which alerts you want to receive—from AMBER Alerts, Public Safety Alerts or Severe Weather Alerts.
When you get an Emergency Alert, you'll hear an alarm sound and a message will pop up on your device's screen. If you ever want to turn off any Emergency Alerts, follow the same steps, but turn off the alerts you no longer wish to receive.
How to set up severe weather alerts on your iPhone
When storms are on the horizon, the Weather app on your iPhone® can keep you safe and up to date in real time. Here's how to set it up:
- Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > Weather, then tap Always.
- Turn on Precise Location to receive the most accurate updates.
- Open Weather, then tap the Menu button.
- Tap the Multitasking button, then tap Notifications. If prompted, allow notifications from the Weather app.
- Under YOUR LOCATIONS, tap a location, then turn on notifications for Severe Weather and Next-Hour Precipitation. Then tap Done.
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How to turn on (and off) severe weather alerts with Amazon's Alexa
You can now get severe weather alerts from your smart speaker thanks to Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa™. To enable these alerts, just say, “Alexa, tell me when there's a severe weather alert," and Alexa will keep you informed when there's a severe weather warning in your area. Watch this video on Asurion's YouTube channel to follow along with an Asurion Expert as they set up severe weather alerts and other smart speaker features that can help in an emergency:
Now you've got your smart devices set up to receive severe weather alerts instantly, here are a few more tips to help you stay connected when unpredictable weather is in your area.
Download the best severe weather apps to stay informed
There are hundreds of weather apps available that offer a bit of everything, from snow reports, UV indexes and live radar. Most of the apps are free and offer push notifications during weather warnings and watches. Many local TV stations also offer apps to stream severe weather coverage. We suggest you download a few and find the one that works best for your needs. Here's a couple to test out to get started:
Accuweather: The Accuweather® app uses crowdsourcing to keep you in the know by allowing users to share weather conditions nearby. It also provides minute-to-minute rain forecasts for the next two hours based on your current location. Available for iOS and Android.
The Weather Channel: The Weather Channel® app is helpful during severe weather situations and for daily forecasts. There's also a social sharing that allows users to share photos of weather near them. Available for iOS and Android.
RainAware: RainAware is a free weather app that helps keep you up to date with the rain chance for the day. It offers minute-to-minute forecast updates and shows precipitation chances and potential intensity up to 12 hours away so you can have ample time to plan ahead. Available for iOS.
Maximize your phone battery life
One of the most important things to do is to make sure you have enough battery power to keep you connected. This will be especially helpful if severe weather causes a power outage. Here are a few easy steps you can take to get more life out of your phone's battery—for more tips, check out our battery-saving blogs specific to iPhone® and Android.
- Turn on your phone's battery-saving option. This is possibly the quickest fix to slow down fast-draining batteries.
- Dim your screen. Reducing your screen's brightness, even just a little, can save big on power.
- Adjust your social app settings. Social apps tend to be big drains on your battery. After you mark yourself as “safe,” adjust your social apps' background refresh and push notification settings. Start with these tips for how to stop Facebook® from draining your phone battery, as it's usually the biggest culprit.
- Change your push notification settings. Push notifications may help you stay connected, but receiving too many from non-essential apps can drain your battery. Visit Settings > Notifications and only allow notifications from those apps that are most important to you (like severe weather alerts).
- Reduce location services for all your phone apps. Check out the Location services in your device's settings to find which apps are allowed to access your location. Turn off any that aren't critical.
- Purchase a portable power bank. It's always a good idea to have an extra battery backup, just in case. Many external power banks have enough power to charge your phone multiple times—just make sure to charge this extra battery before the storm hits. If you're looking for a power source that can charge two phones two to three times and last a few days, you'll want a power bank with a capacity of 22,000mAh (milliamp hour) or more.
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