Community Emergency Alert Network -- FAQs


What is Community Emergency Alert Network?

How does Community Emergency Alert Network work?

How can I check to see if my Community Emergency Alert Network account is working?

Who sends out the alerts?

What types of alerts will be sent?

Will my cell phone work?

What is text messaging and how do I sign up for it?

How many devices/e-mail addresses can I sign up?

What is the difference between registering as an individual or as a business?

 

What is Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN)?
The Community Emergency Alert Network, or CEAN, is a software application used to send emergency alerts, notifications and updates to your cell phone, pager, PDA and/or e-mail account. In the event of an emergency, such as a fire or Sept. 11-type attack, you will be able to receive important alerts and updates. All you have to do is sign up for a Community Emergency Alert Network account.

When an emergency alert is sent by the Community Emergency Alert Network administrator, you will receive it through all your registered delivery methods. These methods may include receiving the alerts by e-mail, or as a text message on your cell phone, pager or other mobile device. Read these messages promptly and follow the instructions. Additional instructions may follow throughout the emergency situation so keep your phone near you. Even if the cell phones are busy, the messages should still come through to your phone.

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How does the CEAN work?
In an emergency situation an alert will be sent to your registered devices. You will receive several text messages on your cell phone or mobile device (text message costs may apply; check with your service provider). Read these messages promptly and follow the instructions.

Additional instructions may follow throughout the emergency situation so keep your devices near you. Even if the cell phones are busy, the messages should still come through to your phone.

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Who sends out alerts?
Authorized personnel within Fairfax County Government will send out alerts. These alerts may go out to everyone in the CEAN or selected groups of individuals, depending on the type of alert.

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How can I check to see if my Community Emergency Alert Network account is working?
Go to your Home page and click the Test alert button. Community Emergency Alert Network will send a test alert to all the devices and e-mail addresses listed in your account. You should receive these messages within 10 to 20 seconds. If you do not receive the messages after several minutes, here are a few suggestions:

  • Go to the Devices tab of your menu and select Edit to confirm that your mobile device phone number and carrier entries are accurate.
  • Contact your carrier to make sure your text messaging is active
  • Make sure your mobile device phone number is accurate
  • Make sure you have the correct carrier selected

Occasionally, carriers perform upgrades to their text messaging networks which may cause delays in receiving your alert message.

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What types of alerts will be sent?
Alert types may include life safety, weather, accidents involving utilities or roadways, or disaster notification such as a terrorist attack. A few examples of the types of messages that can be sent through CEAN are:

  • Notification of the location of the nearest emergency shelter, available bed space, hours of operation during a crisis.
  • Notification of available evacuation routes during an emergency.
  • Activation of special teams within the community, based upon an event.
  • Severe weather warnings.
  • Change in the Homeland Security Advisory System terror alert level.
  • Precautionary evacuation orders.

In addition, you may register for any of these automatic alert groups:

  • County Government Closings/Schedule Change
  • Severe Traffic Disruptions
  • Severe Weather 24/7
  • Severe Weather 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Mon.-Fri.)

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Will my cell phone receive alerts?
CEAN uses the text messaging feature of your cell phone to deliver alerts. The alerts come across like a page on a pager. All cell phone carriers and paging companies offer text messaging (costs may apply). Nearly all phones purchased within the past few years are text messaging capable. If you are unsure, contact your carrier to ask about text messaging.

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What is text messaging and how do I sign up for it?
Text messages are short messages sent to your phone, similar to receiving a page. Each message contains between 100 and 160 characters, or about 10 words, depending upon your carrier. An example of a text message is the notification you receive on your phone when you have new voicemail.

Many carriers activate the service automatically. You should check with your carrier to make sure your text messaging is active. See the service providers listed below for more information.

Nokia
http://www.nokiahowto.com/

Motorola
http://commerce.motorola.com/consumer/QWhtml/manual.html

Ericsson
http://www.ericsson.com/consumers/

Samsung
http://www.samsungtelecom.com/contact_us/contact_us.asp

Kyocera
http://www.kyocera-wireless.com/support/how_to/howto_new.htm

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How many devices/e-mail addresses can I add to my account?

Generally, you may register as many devices with your Community Emergency Alert Network account as you need. However, some organizations may limit the number of devices you are able to register.

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What is the difference between registering as an individual or as a business?
The individual registration should be used to sign up for alerts for one person, or for multiple members of one household. Multiple devices and e-mail addresses can be included during the registration process.

The business registration is specifically designed to allow one business contact to add up to five additional employees (for example, security managers or others involved in that businesses emergency response program). The registrant is the main contact for that business and any alerts he/she signs up for will also be received by the other people registered on the system.

Major emergency announcements will be sent to both types of users – individual and businesses – however, targeted messages may be sent to members of the business community based on their type of business, location, etc.

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Where can I get additional assistance?
If you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact CEAN support via e-mail at AlertSupport@Fairfaxcounty.gov.

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