Delaware Activating Wireless Amber Alerts

Officials will now send special alerts to cell phones notifying people of a child abduction

By Vince Lattanzio
|  Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013  |  Updated 2:52 PM EDT
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Delaware Activating Wireless Amber Alerts

NBC10 Philadelphia

Some people got this Amber Alert message on their cell phone Monday night.

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Cell phone owners in Delaware will now be automatically notified about Amber Alerts on their wireless device.

Delaware State Police announced Tuesday they will start using the Wireless Emergency Alert system to share Amber Alert information.

When an Amber Alert is issued by Delaware officials, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is notified and send out a message to phones in a specific geographic area.

Similar in look to a text message, a special sound or vibration will be made when the emergency message arrives, according to wireless industry group CTIA. 

“When a child’s life is in danger, spreading the word quickly can often mean the difference between life and death," Delaware State Police Sgt. Paul Shavack said in a statement. Sgt. Shavack oversees the Amber Alert program in Delaware.

A wireless Amber Alert was recently used for the first time in our area this January, when a 5-year-old girl was abducted from her Philadelphia elementary school.

Wireless emergency alerts are delivered based on your current location and the cell tower to which you’re connected. In the past, alerts were opt-in and tied to a person’s cell phone number and specific zip codes.

So people who don't live in Delaware, who are in the state at the time a wireless Amber Alert is issued, will get the alert.

The CTIA says everyone is automatically opted-in to receive the alerts and that they don’t count against your wireless plan. You can contact your wireless carrier to opt out of the wireless Amber Alerts.

Not every device is capable of receiving the emergency alerts, yet. That is expected to change as new phones are released.

Delaware has issued eight Amber Alerts since the program was instituted by the state in 2003.

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