Cell phone users will automatically begin receiving emergency text messages

(WMC-TV) – You could soon start receiving emergency text messages to your cell phone whether you signed up for them or not.

The Commercial Mobile Alert System will soon start to ping your phone with three kinds of text messages: immediate threat alerts like hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes, Amber Alerts, and alerts from the President of the United States.

"They're really going to be only the most urgent and they are geographically targeted so you're not going to get messages for information that is not relevant to you," said Jeremy Heidt with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

It is a nationwide alert system that is active right now and you do not have to sign up for it.

Here are the wireless phone carriers participating in the program. If you use one these carriers, you will automatically begin receiving these emergency alerts:

  • AT&T
  • Bluegrass Cellular
  • Cellcom
  • Sprint
  • T-Mobile
  • U.S. Cellular
  • Verizon Wireless

"We've coordinated with all the 911 so that they know the system is coming live so that when they get calls from the public, we can ensure them that 'Yes, you were supposed to get this and here's why,'" explained Heidt.

The text messages that come to your phone are free but you are able to opt out by calling your carrier.