What types of alerts are broadcast?

Only authorized government agencies can issue alerts. Together, government officials developed a specific list of the types of alerts that are considered a threat to life. These types of alerts should be broadcast immediately on television, radio and wireless devices. Below is a complete list and description of these alerts.



Urban Fire
An urban fire threatens multiple residential and/or commercial properties.

Industrial Fire
A large fire in an industrial building or complex that poses a threat to human health.

A wildfire involves natural combustibles, such as grass, brush and trees.

Forest Fire
A Forest fire is a wildfire or prescribed fire that is burning in forested areas, grass or alpine/tundra vegetation and poses a threat to human safety.



A potentially dangerous and poisonous substance that is usually very unstable and can be easily transferred between living organisms.

A chemical substance that, if misused or released, could result in serious injury or death.

With sufficient concentration, a radiological substance.

Drinking Water Contamination
When water quality is negatively affected and a boil-water advisory may be raised, cautioning use by the public.



A potentially dangerous substance or device that may explode.



Air Quality
A decrease in air quality is caused by an elevated particulate count in the atmosphere that can negatively affect visibility or the health of individuals.

Falling Object
Natural or human-made materials at risk of falling, which may threaten people or property.



A tornado is a vortex of a violently rotating winds, often forming a funnel shaped cloud that is capable of damaging property and injuring people.

Flash Flood
Often occurring from river ice jams and excessive unexpected rainfall, a flash flood is the sudden onset of water causing immediate flooding. This event presents a unique danger to life and safety as there is little or no warning that this event will occur.

An earthquake is a sudden release of energy in the Earth’s crust that creates seismic waves that can cause substantial damage, especially in urban environments.

A hurricane is violent storm comprised of intense winds and, heavy rain, potentially causing a storm surge, floods, coastal erosion or landslides.

A tsunami is a gravitational sea wave produced by a large-scale, short-duration disturbance of the ocean floor.

A thunderstorm is a storm of heavy rain accompanied by thunder and lightning that poses a threat to persons.

Storm Surge
A storm surge is abnormal rise in sea level accompanying an intense storm or hurricane that poses a threat to coastal areas.

The general term for a wide variety of processes and landforms involving the down slope movement under the force of gravity of masses of soil and rock material, a landslide can threaten communities and infrastructure located in its path.

Dam Overflow
An overflowing or failing of a dam or reservoir that threatens downstream areas. An alert is issued only in the case of imminent flooding.

Magnetic Storm
A magnetic storm is a worldwide disturbance of the Earth’s magnetic field that can disable electronic devices and infrastructure.

A natural object of extraterrestrial origin (meteoroid) that passes through the atmosphere and hits the ground.

Lahar is a flowing mixture of water-saturated rock debris that forms on the slopes of a volcano. Moving down slope under the force of gravity, lahar can threaten communities situated near the volcano.

Pyroclastic Flow
A pyroclastic flow is a high density flow of solid volcanic fragments suspended in gas that flows down slope from a volcanic vent and can threaten communities situated near the volcanos.

Pyroclastic Surge
A pyroclastic surge is a turbulent, low-density cloud of hot rock debris and gases that are ejected during a volcanic eruption that moves over the ground surface at a high speed.

Volcanic Ash
Volcanic ash is comprised of dust or particles emitted by a volcano during a eruption. Volcanic ash may remain suspended in the atmosphere for a long period of time.


National Security

Terrorist Threat
The use of violence or threats of violence by individuals or groups against civilians or infrastructure.



Civil Emergency
A civil emergency occurs when humans cause a disruption of services or require varying levels of support, law enforcement or attention.

Animal Danger
When a wild or domesticated animal poses a threat to human life or property.

Amber Alert
An Amber Alert is issued by police services when a child has been abducted and it is believed that his/her life is in grave danger. An Amber Alert provides the public with immediate and up-to-date information about the abduction and solicits the public’s help in the safe and swift return of the child.

911 Service
A 911 service alert happens when there is a disruption or outage of telecommunication services between the public and emergency responders.



Test Message
A test message may be issued for either public awareness or technical testing purposes.