Did you know nearly 800,000 children under the age of 18 are reported missing every year? When a child is reported missing, the first three hours are often the most critical in recovery efforts. Law enforcement often turns to the public to help bring home missing children and one of the ways you can find out about these events is through AMBER Alerts.

What are Amber Alerts?

The AMBER (America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert Program is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies, transportation officials, broadcasters, and the wireless industry to help find missing or abducted children. The program, which operates under the U.S. Department of Justice, was created in 1996 and named after Amber Hagerman, a nine-year-old girl who was abducted and murdered in Texas that year. To date, more than 670 children have successfully been found as a result of the AMBER Alert program.

You can do your part to help find missing children when you sign up for AMBER Alerts. When you sign up for AMBER Alerts, with either alerts to your cell phone or through social media, you receive information that is geographically targeted to help identify a missing or abducted child, a vehicle description, and information about a suspected abductor.

Alerts to Your Cell Phone

With so many people connected to a mobile device, it seems only logical that emergency information is available to the public through cell phones. The sooner people can get information, the sooner they can reach out to help those at risk. That’s why the CTIA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) developed Wireless Emergency Alerts. These alerts are free text messages sent to mobile devices, which give information about children in danger and other emergency information in your geographical area.

To receive Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), you need to upgrade your device’s software to be WEA compatible. All you have to do is check with your wireless provider to ensure alerts are available in your area and that your cell phone is compatible. All subscribers with WEA-capable devices will be sent official emergency alerts, if your wireless carrier participates in the program. There’s no additional sign up needed.

You may also download the AMBER Alert iPhone app to view real-time AMBER Alerts. It’s a free app from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The app reports missing children and instantly reports sightings.

Notifications via Social Media

You can also get AMBER Alerts via social media. If you are connected to Facebook and Twitter, simply take a few extra steps to get alerts through your social channels.

Facebook

AMBER Alerts can come to your Facebook News Feed. To sign up to receive alerts, go to the AMBER Alert Facebook page and “like” your state under then “AMBER Pages” tab. If you would like to receive alerts in other states, you can also “like” those states as well; you are not limited to only one states alerts.

Twitter

You can also follow @AMBERAlert on Twitter to receive notifications to your Twitter feed. From there, you can retweet and share the alert with your followers.

AMBER Alerts can help save children’s lives. Do your part and sign up for AMBER Alerts in your area. You can also take an extra step to keeping your family safe by finding a home security system that meets your needs. Use the SafeWise system finder to help you protect your home and family.

Image Courtesy of PJ Media

Written by Hillary Johnston

A proud mother of four, Hillary is passionate about safety education. She holds a degree in Public Health and Disaster Management. Learn more

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