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How to turn off emergency alerts on your phone

Amber and weather alerts can be turned off on Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and Windows Phone devices by following these simple steps.

Sharon Vaknin/CNET

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are designed to alert mobile users in the United States about kidnappings, known as Amber Alerts, severe weather, and presidential announcements for national emergencies.

Alerts are geographically targeted, meaning you won't receive a notification for a missing child in San Francisco if you live in New York, and vice versa. The system has proven to be helpful in warning people about dangerous situations, but alerts have also been known to reach phones at ungodly hours. And for some people, it might make sense to turn them off. For example, a person with multiple phones might want to opt out of the WEA system on one phone to avoid getting these alarms in stereo.

Luckily, these alerts can be disabled with a few simple steps. There is one caveat, though: there is currently no way to turn off the presidential alerts. But to turn off the rest, follow the steps for your mobile OS.

To disable emergency alerts in stock Android, head to Settings, click on the More option under the Wireless & Networks section, and scroll down to the Cell Broadcasts settings.

Once opened, you will be given the option to disable extreme threats, severe threats, and Amber Alerts.

Android can be tricky, however, because each device is different. If you can't find the emergency alert option in your phone's settings, open the Messaging application and look for the option in the messaging settings.

Screenshot by Dan Graziano/CNET

BlackBerry 10
BlackBerry 10 alerts can be disabled in the BlackBerry Hub. Select the Settings option, choose Emergency Alerts, and slide the switch next to the alert you would like to be disabled to "off."

Screenshot by Dan Graziano/CNET

Alerts can be turned off in iOS by opening Settings and selecting Notifications. Scroll to the bottom of the page were you will be presented with an option to disable both Amber and emergency alerts.

Screenshot by Dan Graziano/CNET

Windows Phone 8
Windows Phone users can swipe left or hit the arrow key at the bottom of the Start screen to enter the Applications list. Then, choose Messages, select the More option, which is represented by three dots on the lower-right-hand side of the screen, enter Settings, and go to Emergency Alerts. You will then be given the option to disable both Amber and extreme alerts.

Screenshot by Dan Graziano/CNET

Feature phones
Emergency alerts are also sent to basic mobile phones, more commonly referred to as feature phones. For those individuals who haven't yet upgraded to a smartphone, emergency alerts can be disabled by sending the word "stop" or "cancel" to 26237 (AMBER). Customers also have the option of calling their wireless provider.