Tech Tips

How to set up severe weather alerts on your smartphone or smart speaker

When bad weather strikes, severe weather alerts from your iPhone, Android or smart speaker, like Amazon’s Alexa, 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?,” our experts are sharing these helpful tips for when uncontrollable weather comes knocking – from how to increase your phone battery life, to how to set up severe weather alerts, to the best severe weather apps. Being prepared is key, and luckily, your tech can help you weather the storm.

How to turn on (and off) emergency alerts on Android

  • Go to Settings > Connections > More Connection Settings > Wireless Emergency Alerts.
  • Then, click on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner and choose Settings.
  • 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 turn on (and off) emergency alerts on iPhone

  • Go to Settings Notifications > Emergency Alerts

By default, all the Government Alerts (AMBER Alerts, Emergency Alerts and Public Safety Alerts) are turned on. When you get a Government Alert, your device will vibrate, make an alarm sound and a message will pop up on the screen. *Note: Do Not Disturb mode does not block Government Alerts.

If you ever want to turn off any Government Alerts, simply follow same the directions as above, but toggle off the alerts you no longer want to receive.

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. You can turn off Alexa’s severe weather alerts at any time by saying, “Alexa, turn off severe weather alerts.”

Don’t worry, Alexa is still there for your every day weather forecast. Just say, “Alexa, tell me the weather.”

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.

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 iOS and Android.

  • Turn on your phone’s battery saving option. This is possibly the quickest fix to slow down fast-draining batteries.
  • Adjust your Facebook settings. Social apps tend to be the biggest battery drainers. After you mark yourself as “safe,” adjust your social apps’ background refresh and push notification settings.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Dim your screen. Reducing your screen’s brightness – even if it’s just a little – can save big on power.
  • 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.

Download the best severe weather apps to stay informed

There’s 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:

How to set up severe weather alerts on your phone

Accuweather – This 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.

The Weather Channel – 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.

RainAware – This is a free weather app that helps keep you up to date with the rain chance for the day. It also offers minute-to-minute updates in forecast and times up potential precipitation up to three hours.

Tap into our expertise

Our experts work with you to help you discover what tech can do to make life a little easier – and, like in the case of pending severe weather, help you stay safe and connected.

Popular articles: