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Amber Alerts Notify Cellphone Users Across Missouri

Cellphone users are now receiving information of missing children through a notification and a very loud alarm.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Many Missourians may have heard an alarming sound on their cellphone Friday afternoon.

It was the sound of an amber alert that was issued for a 6-month-old boy from Southern Missouri.

The alert system started last year through the Wireless Emergency Alerts program.

"Everyone has a cellphone. So, by broadcasting that to their cellphone, we're looking at getting that information to them even faster," said Deputy Sarah Hardin.

W.E.A. allows people with up-to-date Androids, or iPhones, to receive three types of alerts directly from the government: President - which is sent nationwide, imminent threat - which is typically severe weather alerts and amber alerts.

"It's obviously going to be an asset to us to get that information out faster," said Deputy Hardin.

Authorities don't send amber alerts for every missing child.

"They have to be under the age of 17, they have to be abducted and law enforcement know that that has happened. We have to know something about the abduction itself, a car being used, a person that took the child, something that we can alert the public to look for," said Deputy Hardin.

They also have to believe the child is in serious danger.

That's when authorities get forms together to create an amber alert, and send it over to dispatchers.

"And then, once we met the criteria for an amber alert, we get that out and issued," said Deputy Hardin.

There are ways to turn off the alarm.

For android users, go to the amber alerts app, select settings, then press amber alerts. The blue check means it's turned on.

For iPhones, go to settings, select notification center, and scroll down until you see government alerts.

"That sound that comes out over your phone is very fire alarm sounding. It draws your attention to it," said Deputy Hardin.

Authorities recommend cellphone users keep the alerts on for emergency purposes.

"So, although it might be inconvenient, you know, sometimes to have that sound going off on your phone in the middle of the night, we're getting that information out that potentially saves lives," said Deputy Hardin.
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