What to Do When You Get an Amber Alert

What to Do When You Get an Amber Alert
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina 🇺🇦 on Unsplash

Negosentro | What to Do When You Get an Amber Alert | When an AMBER alert is issued, the authorities, and especially the child, are counting on members of the public just like you to respond appropriately to help recover a missing child. If you witness the abduction of a child, you must call 911 immediately and report the event as clearly and accurately as possible.

Do your best to make note of any and all descriptive characteristics about the child that you can and relay those details to the 911 operator. Details like a description of the perpetrator, the vehicle used, manner of dress, age, and appearance are all extremely important. Any information you have about the time and location of the abduction is also critical.

If you hear an AMBER alert or receive notification of one through a mobile device, you have a duty to keep your eyes open for the child, suspect, and vehicle described by the alert. If you obtain any information about the abduction, call 911 or the phone number indicated in the AMBER alert.

Remember, when you receive an AMBER alert, the child victim of an abduction is counting on the public to do their duty and not be complacent. That child’s life may depend on you!

What To Do After Receiving an AMBER Alert

AMBER alerts are sent as push notifications on iPhones and Android devices. These alerts emit a loud noise and display a pop-up on the screen. Many US mobile service carriers do this as well. 

The alert is loud, and it can be disruptive. Unfortunately, many people simply disable the feature, so that AMBER alerts cannot be heard aloud. While it is understandable, and there are some situations where such an alert may be disruptive, there is a good reason why they are designed to be so intrusive. The reason is that a child’s life may be hanging in the balance, and the help of potential witnesses are critical if there is to be a successful recovery.

If you are in a situation where an AMBER alert would be unbearably disruptive, rather than switching the feature off, please turn the device off instead. If an alert comes through later after you turn the device back on, and you happen to witness something that can help the investigation, it could make all the difference.

You can also set the Do Not Disturb setting on your phone so that it does not wake you up during the night, during an interview, study session, or what have you. This is far preferable to rejecting all AMBER alerts as a matter of policy and missing an opportunity to possibly save a child’s life.

It could mean the difference between tragedy and justice.

When an AMBER alert comes through on your mobile device, you will see whatever information is available about the victim, the perpetrator, and the event. This information may include an image of the child, the child’s age, a description of the suspect, the vehicle used in the abduction, and other key events. Oftentimes, the only information that will be available is a brief description of the vehicle and a license plate number. 

Know that there is no charge for receiving or reviewing AMBER alerts. So, there is no reason not to open the notification and look at the message. When an AMBER alert appears, it will be represented by an orange triangle with an exclamation point inside. This tells you that it is an emergency alert, and possibly an AMBER alert.

If you can, write the information down or memorize it. If you receive an AMBER alert, please keep your eyes and ears open for the clues included in the alert. AMBER alerts are directed to phones in the area where the abduction is believed to have occurred. That means, if you do receive one of these notifications, it means you are in the area where the abduction is believed to have happened, or an area where an abducted child may have been taken. 

After receiving one of these alerts, you may visit one of two websites dedicated to sharing information about child abductions. They are:

  • AmberAlert.gov
  • MissingKids.com

These sites are likely to contain a photo of the child, the age, the street where he or she lives, and the date since which the child has been missing.

About the AMBER Alert System

The AMBER Alert System started in 1996 after Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters, along with their local police, developed a novel early warning system to help find children who had been abducted. 

“AMBER” stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. The system was created in honor of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman. She was abducted in Arlington, TX, and brutally murdered. 

Other states and communities quickly set up AMBER plans of their own as the idea swept the nation.


Children are innocent, and they deserve every chance any adult member of our society can give them to live, love, and be happy. When a child goes missing, the anguish felt by the parents is immeasurable. And the suffering of children at the hands of deranged predators is an incalculable horror.

So, please welcome this alert system should an AMBER notification be sent to your phone. Know that at least 1,114 children have been saved by this system since it was created and that it is far from futile. 

Surely, our society will be judged based on how well or how poorly we cared for the most innocent among us.

If you receive an AMBER alert, you may be the key to saving a child’s life. 

Please do the right thing.

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina 🇺🇦 on Unsplash


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