Accept The Challenge. Considering all of the harsh weather we've been having (well, harsh for us Californians!), I thought I'd start off with this post.
I personally use the EDIS-by-Email service, and it has already come in VERY handy on two occasions. The first was for a tornado that touched down in my SF Bay Area town (!), and the second time was for a Shelter-In-Place alert we got as the police were looking for a shooting suspect that was in our area.
BTW, I have the alerts go to my email address in full-text mode, and just the headlines go to my cell phone (to save memory space).
Most states and localities have some sort of Emergency Alert System. It may be a tornado siren or a TV or radio alert that interrupts your regular programming.
California has a system that goes a bit further. It is called the Emergency Digital Information System (EDIS). It is a system where you can receive an alert via an email message. What is nice, is that you can get an alert sent to your cell phone as well.
The system allows you to select the specific county for which you want alerts - in some cases, allowing you to choose specific cities. You can also select the type and severity of emergency about which you're notified.
For instance, you can choose to receive an alert that occurs in any of the 9 Bay Area counties for a chemical, meteorological or transportation emergency. You can decide if you want to know if it is of an Extreme, Severe, Moderate, Minor or Unknown severity. You can select one or all of them.
Having these alerts sent to your cell phone will allow you to know about emergencies that happen while you are away from home. These alerts could be life-savers.
Emergencies don't always occur when we're safely inside of our homes. Getting as much advanced notice of an emergency that may affect you or a family member can be crucially important.
Start with a Google search of your area's emergency alert system. I had the best results when starting on the county basis - doing a Google search of 'Contra Costa County emergency alerts'. Drill down to find out which ways you can receive notification.
If your area does not appear to have a program, search for your local CERT - Community Emergency Response Team (national site with state links here). Let them know you think an alert program would be a good idea. Send them a link to the California system as an example of what can work.
You can contact Chief Instructor by visiting the Accept The Challenge blog and following the links.