30 Emergency Text Message Examples, Alert Message Templates

March 29, 2024 (Updated) | By Sam Pelton
Emergency texting

An emergency could be just around the corner.

And for certain industries, it’s important for you to be on top of keeping people in the know when these emergencies occur.

For example…

  • If you work for a college campus, how do you let students, faculty, and staff know if facilities are closed due to impending weather?
  • If you work for a local municipality, how do you let citizens know if there’s a prairie fire approaching the city limits?
  • If you work for a construction company, how do you let field workers know about a power outage that may put them in a dangerous situation?

There are many ways to put out emergency information but none is more effective than texting, with open rates as high as 98%.

Other ways to notify people in the event of an emergency include email and voicemail (and in some cases WEAs).

Most ideally, you can use a combination (or all) of these methods.

But how?

How do you craft an emergency alert message that you can push out within 2 minutes or less when the need arises?

The best way is to have templates in place.

Here we’ll give you some emergency text message examples (plus email and voicemail examples for good measure), so that you can easily set up your own templates.

First, some definitions...

Definitions

What Are Emergency Text Alerts?

Emergency text alerts are mass text messages sent to notify an audience regarding emergencies or time-sensitive information. Emergency text alerts are different from Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) in that they come through as normal text messages, while WEAs are special notifications issued by authorized public safety officials.

What Constitutes an “Emergency”?

When it comes to emergency text alerts, an emergency isn’t necessarily something life-threatening.

But it does always involve something time-sensitive that needs to be communicated to a group of people.

(Note: a true "emergency" classification may need to include an element of true threat, but the general usage of the term doesn't require this.)

Some examples could include:

  • Safety alerts
  • Cancellations and closures
  • Shift changes and needs
  • Last-minute meeting notices
  • Anything else that needs to be communicated last-minute

What Are Wireless Emergency Alerts?

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are special public service alerts issued by government entities. These are separate from emergency text alerts in that they (1) can only be issued by authorized public safety agents, (2) trigger a unique sound and vibration on the recipient’s phone, and (3) don’t count toward the texting limits on the recipient’s plan (among other differences).

Text alert services can’t provide access to send WEAs. But emergency text alerts can accomplish a similar goal of communicating emergency or urgent messages quickly to a large number of people.

Emergency text alerts vs wireless emergency alerts

Why Send Emergency Text Messages with a Text Alert System?

So why would you actually want to send emergency text messages? And why use a text alert system?

The Value of Texting

Texting (SMS) provides one of the easiest ways to reach people where they're really looking: their phones.

After all, by one report 55% of text messages are opened and 100% of text messages are at least "viewed."

This kind of effectiveness is especially valuable when a situation is urgent - when you need to get info out to a large number of people quickly.

Reasons You'd Need to Send Emergency Texts

We'll get into this more below, but there are several "emergency" reasons why you'd want or need to send out a text message.

Some of those include:

  • Weather emergencies: for example, tornadoes, wildfires, and hurricanes
  • Work hazards: for example, toxic spills and construction
  • Outages: for example, power outages and system outages
  • Safety notices: for example, security concerns, threats, and suspicious objects/activity
  • Non-emergency urgent items: for examples, cancellations, closures, shift needs, schedule changes, and venue changes

The Value of Using a Text Alert System

If you're in need of sending emergency text messages and if you need to send to a large number of people, a text alert system is the way to go.

That way, you can manage a database of contacts and send out mass texts all at once.

You can even save templates so that when you're ready to send, you'll have some message content all loaded up and good to go.

How to Send Emergency Text Messages

Sending an emergency text message needs to be easy.

After all, by definition, time is of the essence. So you need a simple, user-friendly process.

The good news is that there are just a couple of quick steps you need to take in order to send out your emergency alert.

Steps

Pre-Step: Set Up a Text Alert System

Scrambling is good when you’re making eggs, but not when you’re trying to send an urgent text.

In order to not be scrambling when the time comes, you need to make sure everything is set up and ready to go ahead of time.

This means:

Once you have your text alert account set up and contacts loaded in, you’re ready to go to shoot out a text blast whenever the need arises.

Step 1: Log In

In an urgent situation, you don’t want to worry about trying to remember your login credentials and dealing with password reset processes.

So make sure you have your login credentials saved somewhere (securely) for easy reference.

Then whenever you need to send out an emergency text alert, you can log right in.

We’d recommend logging into the mobile app during emergency moments since it’s a bit more convenient, but you can log in to the online platform as well.

Step 2: Select the Recipients

If you want to send to your entire database, simply select the “all” option and move on.

However, if your alert only applies to a small subset of your contact list, you can choose to only send to particular groups, or you can select specific subscribers.

Step 3: Enter the Message

Once your recipient list is selected, all you have to do is input the message content and hit “Send.”

Your message will then go out immediately to your contact list.

(If you want to save even more time and skip this step, you can even set up message templates with pre-filled content ahead of time.)

You can confirm the success of your message by viewing your SMS delivery report.

Elements to Include

FEMA provides a list of elements they recommend when sending an alert via WEA.

This same concept could be applied to SMS, as well as email and voicemail.

These different elements include the following.

Source

What’s the source of the emergency information? Is it the police department? Local news? The National Weather Service? The governor’s office? The federal government?

Identify the source so that people know where you’re getting your info.

Guidance on What to Do

Let people know the recommended course of action.

Do they need to take shelter? Evacuate?

In an emergency, people need to know exactly what they’re supposed to do.

Nature & Location of Hazard

Explain what the actual emergency is and where it’s located.

Is it a tornado a few miles outside of town? Is it a public disturbance within a particular building on the university campus?

This will let people know why there’s a problem, so that they can stay alert.

Termination Time in Local Time Zone

What’s the estimated termination time for the emergency?

In other words, when is the emergency expected to be over?

State the termination time in the local time zone of your recipients if possible.

If the termination time is unknown, you can say “until further notice.”

URL

If applicable, include a link at which people can find more information.

FEMA suggests considering linking to social media rather than your website. This would be particularly relevant if you have a large audience - your site may not be used to a lot of traffic at once and could potentially crash.

Giving people a link allows them some peace of mind since they can check for updates whenever they’d like.

Phone Number

If applicable, also include a phone number people can call with any questions or concerns.

However, if you do include a phone number, make sure you have the capacity to monitor and answer the phone calls.

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Those are different elements you can put together to create your emergency texts and other messages.

Keep in mind that with SMS, it’s recommended to keep your messages at 160 characters or fewer if possible. If you include more than 160 characters, your message may be sent as more than 1 SMS.

Serious person texting

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Tips on Crafting Your Emergency Texts

In addition to trying to include the elements listed above, here are some other tips to consider.

Be Clear

Don’t allow for any confusion or room for misinterpretation in your message, if you can avoid it.

Stay away from ambiguous language that people may not understand or may take the wrong way.

Make sure your instructions and guidance in particular are crystal clear so that people know exactly what they should do.

Don’t Stir Up Panic

Make sure your emergency messages don’t do more harm than good. Avoid language that will foster an attitude of panic.

Calm, clear explanations and directions will help people not get too caught up in fear.

Be as Accurate as Possible

When possible, make sure your information is accurate before sharing.

If it’s not possible to verify the info before sharing, let people know that the information is “alleged” or “reported” rather than stating it as fact.

If it turns out that the information is false, make sure to let people know right away.

Save Your Template Ahead of Time

Consider creating and saving message templates for potential emergency situations ahead of time.

You can consider the most likely emergency situations and craft the language you’d like to use when sending the message.

Then if the situation ever arises, you’ll already have that information available for easy reference, so you can save precious time by not having to start from scratch.

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Now that you have an idea of some elements to include in your texts and some tips on how to craft them, let’s get into some specific emergency text message examples.

Woman texting

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Emergency Text Message Examples & Templates

Weather

EXAMPLES:

Safety officer advises taking shelter now - severe thunderstorm impending at your worksite area until 3:20pm. Cease work until further notice. Visit our Twitter page for live updates or call 504-339-2220.


Chancellor’s office - Campus closed and classes canceled today due to the blizzard. Campus will reopen tomorrow at 8am. Stay tuned for further updates!

TEMPLATES:

[Source such as the National Weather Service, corporate office, administration, etc.] has [guidance regarding what action to take specific to the type of weather emergency] until [specific time, or further notice]. [Further instructions]. Visit [link] or call [phone number].


[Source such as the National Weather Service, corporate office, administration, etc.] - [Information pertinent to recipients, such as building closure] due to [type of weather emergency]. [Information about when the emergency is over, such as building reopening] at [specific time]. Stay tuned for further updates!

Work Hazard

EXAMPLES:

From HR - There has been a hazardous spill in Warehouse F. Please evacuate and report to the main office for further instruction.


From management - A fire has been detected on the main floor. Refrain from coming to work until notified by your supervisor (evacuate if you are already in the building). Visit LangstonELT.com or call your supervisor for updates.

TEMPLATES:

From [authority source, such as HR] - [Information about what type of emergency occurred]. [Guidance regarding what action to take]. [Information on how to get further information/instruction].


From [authority source, such as HR] - [Information about what type of emergency occurred]. [Guidance regarding what action to take]. Visit [website/social media page] or call [phone number or specific person’s title] for updates.

Power or System Outage

EXAMPLES:

CEO James Pelton has issued a building closure due to a system-wide power outage until further notice. Please do not come to work until you hear from your supervisor. Call 589-040-2494 with any questions.


From: IT - System is down. Expected fix within 30 minutes. Prompt response to customers during this outage is critical.

TEMPLATES:

[Source, such as management] has issued [pertinent event, such as a building closure] due to [power or system outage event] until [expected time, or 'further notice']. [Guidance regarding what action to take.] Call [phone number] with any questions.


From: [source, such as management] - [Power or system] is down. Expected fix [timeframe, specific time, or 'to be determined']. [Additional information].

Safety Threat

EXAMPLES:

Urgent! From Security: There has been an alleged assault on campus, near Building D. Law enforcement is handling it. If on campus, please find a safe place and remain there. If currently off campus, please remain off campus until further notice.


Urgent! From Security: A potential explosive has been discovered in the Student Union. Evacuate immediately. Please await further instructions.

TEMPLATE:

Urgent! From [source, such as Security] - [Information about safety threat, such as what the threat is and where it was discovered]. [Guidance regarding what action to take.] [Guidance regarding when and how to get more information].

“Non-Emergency” Urgent Items

The above are just a few examples of emergency texts you could send.

And the concept can apply even if your situation isn’t an “emergency” per se, but is an urgent situation requiring immediate attention.

This might include events such as:

  • Last minute office closures

The doctor is sick, so offices are closed today! Sorry for any inconvenience! We’ll plan on reopening tomorrow at 8:30am.

  • Shift needs

We’re in need of 2 people to cover the night shift tonight! Any volunteers?

  • Class or event cancellations

Zumba class is canceled due to a family emergency! We’ll do a make-up class next week. (More details to come.)

  • Venue changes or updates

The pool is closed due to maintenance. Apologies for any inconvenience!

  • Schedule changes

Shift B has been changed to 11am tomorrow due to a staff illness. Please let your supervisor know if this presents any conflict!

What About Emergency Emails and Voicemails?

Similar concepts about what messaging to include in an emergency text message can be applied to an emergency email and/or voicemail.

One difference is that you can include more information within those mediums than you might include in a text message.

However, people are much more likely to see their SMS first before they read your email or listen to your voicemail message.

We would recommend sending SMS, emails, and/or voicemails in conjunction with each other so that people are sure to get the emergency notice. You could even use SMS to instruct people to check their email for more information.

Emergency Text Message FAQ

Here are some answers to common questions regarding emergency text messages.

How to Send an Emergency Text?

To send an emergency text to a significant numbers of recipients, you'll need to get an account with a texting platform/API that allows you to send mass texts. You'll then be able to add in contacts to the SMS database and send out the text messages as needed.

What is an emergency text message system?

An emergency text message system is an online system that allows you to manage contacts and send out mass text messages. Services are typically offered via a web platform and corresponding mobile app and/or API.

How to send an emergency text on iPhone?

To send an emergency text on an iPhone to a large number of people, your best option would be to use a texting platform and access the platform's mobile app from your phone. The app will allow you to blast out emergency texts whenever needed.

How to send an emergency text message in the UK?

Sending an emergency text message in the UK would be the same process as in the US. You can use an online platform to schedule and send texts. You would just need to make sure that the online platform allows for sending texts to the UK specifically.

How to send an emergency text message test?

To send an emergency text message test, first add contacts into your online texting database. Then go into the "send" section of your platform, select the recipients for your message, type out the content of your message, and hit "Send." Your test message will then go out to your recipient list.

How to get emergency text messages?

In order to get emergency text messages, audiences need to sign up or be manually added to the list. Some ways audiences can sign up for the texts is by texting in a "keyword," visiting an online sign-up page, or by scanning a QR code. Or the sender can upload a spreadsheet including all the phone numbers that would like to receive the emergency messages.

Use Emergency Text Message Examples to Save Precious Time

The bottom line is that SMS is a highly effective way to get your emergency message across.

Using the explanations and examples from above can help you save time when you’re in an urgent situation.

And those precious minutes can make all the difference when you’re trying to make people aware of an emergency.

You can download this guide to keep on hand for your convenience.

And get 50 text message credits to try SMS for yourself for FREE (no credit card required).

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