Skip to Main Content


Stay Informed

It is important that you keep yourself informed of the situation in your immediate area during a disaster. In addition to television and radio, you can also get valuable information from the internet or a smartphone app that provides weather updates and alerts. Keep in mind that local outlets may be able to provide more specific information for your area.

Depending on the nature of the emergency, a critical early decision you may need to make is whether to stay where you are or evacuate. Use common sense and available information to determine if there is an immediate danger.

Subscribe to Alert Services

Now is the time to identify where you will look for information in the event of an emergency. Identify the sources of information you are most comfortable with, such as television, radio, internet or smartphone. Get statewide emergency information and updates at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management website.

The WEA system, or Wireless Emergency Alerts, is a national emergency alert system that sends free short messages to users’ mobile devices based on their current location. Individuals do not need to sign up for this service. WEA allows government officials to send emergency alerts to all subscribers with WEA-capable devices if their wireless carrier participates in the program.

In addition, many local governments provide their own alert systems. Check your local government’s Emergency Management information to see if you can sign up for alerts there.

The three types of alerts are:

  1. Presidential Alerts – issued by the U.S. President;
  2. Imminent Threat Alerts – severe man-made or natural disasters in which an imminent threat to life or property exists; and
  3. AMBER Alerts – issued to help law enforcement search for and locate an abducted child.

Social Media

Social media is a valuable tool for sharing information before, during and after an emergency. Social media refers to the many web-based tools that allow people to connect with each other online, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Many city and county governments have Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or other social media accounts that can help you learn about emergency preparedness. Go to your city or county’s website and look for the social media logos that will link you to these accounts.


The FEMA App (free for Android and iOS) includes weather warnings, safety tips, the locations of shelters and contact information for FEMA agents. The app also lets you upload photos of what's going on in your area, which can help first responders.


The American Red Cross has several mobile apps that provide helpful information and updates in emergencies. Visit their website to learn more and download.