OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Authorities began sending out Amber Alerts to cell phones at the start of 2013. The messages were used over the weekend to warning people about a Montana Amber Alert.
An Amber Alert helped authorities find Brayden Blasius over the weekend. The child was abducted from Montana and found in Fife, Washington. Authorities credit the Amber Alert system with helping find 640 children nationwide.
The Wireless Emergency Alert System was launched nationally by the Department of Justice and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the Wireless Carrier industry on January 1st.
Phones can receive three different types of messages. The alerts include messages issued by the President, warnings about severe man-made or natural disasters, and Amber Alerts.
Washington State Troopers said cell phone users may opt out of Amber Alerts and Imminent Threat Alerts by contacting their wireless carrier. Individual carrier instructions for each device and how to turn it off can be found here.
Presidential Alerts cannot be opted out of according to WSP.
The WEA uses geographic locations of cell phone devices for notifications, not cell numbers. Anyone travelling through the area of an AMBER alert will receive the alert according to WSP.
Troopers said the alerts are not text messages.