UPDATE: How to prepare for a real emergency alert
UPDATE: An incorrect emergency alert scared and confused many people in Blount County Saturday morning.
Blount County Emergency Management officials say they were working on a missing child alert when the system malfunctioned and sent an alert for a civil emergency.
The missing child was located, but the snafu raised questions about what an emergency alert can entail.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, there are three types of alerts.
Amber alerts are issued in the most serious child-abduction cases.
A presidential alert can be sent when there is a national emergency, such as a serious natural disaster or terrorist threat.
The third type of alerts are issued in events involving threats to safety or life.
In all three cases, the alert should include how to respond. For example, the alert may say to take cover or be on the lookout for an abducted child.
In the event of a real emergency, Knoxville Fire Department Captain D.J. Corcoran says knowing the emergency is fundamental.
PREVIOUS STORY: Blount County officials say a civil alert to sent to phones across East Tennessee Saturday morning was a mistake. The alert was supposed to be a missing child alert, according to the Blount County Emergency Management Agency.
Officials were creating an Integrated Public Alert Warning System message after a 4-year-old boy was found running down Nobel Street in Alcoa, according to Lance Coleman, director of Blount County Emergency Management Agency. That alert was supposed to be an attempt to find the child's parents, Coleman said.
While emergency management officials were crafting the message, the software inadvertently sent a Civil Alert test weather message in place of the alert regarding the child and his parents.
After consulting with software engineers, officials issued disregard message 11:46 a.m., Coleman said.