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Understanding Alerts


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On Saturday, Jan. 13, an emergency alert notification warning of a ballistic missile threat was sent to Hawaiians. Thirty-eight minutes later, a second alert confirmed that there was no such threat. In both instances, the alerts were transmitted by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

Alerts can be sent out by various organizations, including federal, state and local agencies, straight to your mobile device. The Emergency Alert System allows government representatives to distribute warnings and alerts, such as AMBER (child abduction emergency) and severe weather alerts, from and for their regions.

Other alerts are broadcast by media outlets. For example, the Department of Homeland Security will publicly announce National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) alerts about terrorist threats by releasing information to the media for distribution and also posting alerts on its website and social media channels. There are two types of alerts: an imminent threat alert, which warns of a credible, specific and impending terrorist threat against the U.S., and an elevated threat alert, which warns of a credible terrorist threat against the U.S. The alerts provide a summary of the potential threat, information about actions being taken to ensure public safety and recommended steps.

Johns Hopkins On-Campus Alerts

Here at Johns Hopkins, the Johns Hopkins Emergency Alert System is the emergency alert notification sys­tem used across the enterprise in the event of any pending or actual disasters, emergencies or safety threats on or near the campus. Enrolling in our emergency alert system is the best way to find out about emergencies on our campuses — whether at The Johns Hopkins University or Johns Hopkins Medicine. The emergency alert system is managed by corporate security at the respective campuses. When an emergency occurs, text alerts are sent to the cellphones of faculty, staff and students.

CEPAR encourages you to sign up to receive Johns Hopkins emergency alerts by visiting your profile on my.jh.edu. Please also ensure your contact information is current.

What do you do if you get an alert?

When you receive an alert, the message will often have information detailing recommended next steps. Overall, the best advice is to remain calm and report any suspicious activity you witness to either Johns Hopkins Corporate Security or local authorities, depending on the location. For certain alerts, such as a Johns Hopkins-related alert, it may be best to stay away from the area of the noted incident. Remember to also continue to monitor follow-up alerts and news reports, if applicable. It’s recommended that you avoid sharing unconfirmed information and rumors with others.

How to Sign Up for Other Alerts

For alerts outside the Johns Hopkins campus, most cellphones have the option to opt-in to receive emergency alert notifications, such as AMBER or severe weather alerts. Some phones have an “Emergency Alerts” icon, in which you can select alerts to receive. For other cellphones, you can sign up for alerts by going into “Settings” and “Notifications.”

As an added safety measure, you may also consider downloading one of a variety of mobile device apps specifically designed to monitor severe weather and other emergency alerts, which can help keep you informed.