What to Do When You Get an iPhone Amber Alert

iPhone Amber Alerts automatically push important alerts about missing children directly to iPhones causing phones to emit a loud noise and display a small alert on-screen.

Now that AT&T offers iPhone Amber Alerts most U.S. carriers are on board with the important emergency alerts. These alerts arrive on the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 as well as on many Android devices.

This is an important tool for helping identify and track down missing children, but the alerts don’t always include all the information users need to be of help to officials.

A sample iPhone Amber Alert.
A sample iPhone Amber Alert.

If you receive an iPhone Amber Alert, there will be a small amount of information such as a child’s description or the description of a car and a license plate, but not much else. The Amber Alert on iPhone is limited to a certain number of characters like a text message. The alerts show up on the lock screen and Notification Center with a hazard triangle next to it to indicate this is an emergency alert.


There is no charge for Amber Alerts on the iPhone when delivered through this method. This Emergency alert method also covers weather related emergencies, though it does not cover things like a Thunderstorm warning.

Users will see an Amber Alert on the iPhone based on their location, which means if an Amber Alert is issued in New York City while you are traveling there, you will see an alert, even if your billing zip code is in Ohio. Emergency alerts work the same way.

If you get an iPhone Amber Alert, the best place to go for more information is AmberAlert.gov and MissingKids.com. Both of these websites will deliver new information about the Amber alert to your iPhone.

The free iPhone Amber Alert app offers more information.
The free iPhone Amber Alert app offers more information.

There is also a free Amber Alert iPhone app that offers more information about missing children. The app allows users to report a sighting directly from the app. This IPhone Amber Alert app has not been updated in several years, but appears to function.

If you did not get an Amber Alert on the iPhone, but a coworker did, you should make sure that Government Alerts are set to on. Grab the iPhone to get started. Go to Settings -> Notification Center -> Scroll down to Government Alerts and make sure Amber Alerts is marked on.

If this doesn’t solve the problem it is possible your carrier does not support the built-in iPhone Amber Alerts yet.

Josh Smith is Editor of GottaBeMobile and Notebooks.com. He's always looking for ways to help you get the most of your gear and loves to talk about tech on radio and TV. Josh uses an iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and Windows Computers. Josh Smith on Google+ Email: [email protected]


  1. You can also sign up for your local community emergency alert system. These may have more detail on the Amber alerts and will also send alerts on other things like chemical spills, fires, street closings, etc. Go to http://www.usnear.org to sign up for any local emergency alert service in the US.

  2. Got one last night about midnight. Scared me because of the loudness of it. Thought it was my home security system going off.

  3. Thanks for this. Hopefully in the future they’ll be able to put more information into the alert or have it take you directly to a web page for more info. I’ll check out the app for sure.

    • iPhone 5: swipe down from the top of the screen to open notifications. Choose the. “ALL” or “MISSED” tab. It should be listed.

  4. At&t must not have this option yet?!?! I have the iPhone4 and cant find it in my settings->notifications… there is no option for Government

  5. It does not make good sense to wakeup 5,000,000 people at 6 a.m. with the loud, obtrusive Amber alert signal which displays a license plate number. Am I supposed to get out of bed and go get in my car and search for a black Toyota? Go to settings and turn it off. While the idea is good, the implimentation needs to be more sensible.

  6. I suspect the use of technology here might very well be extremely useful but after searching and reading 4 or 5 different pages on AMBER alerts (I just got one, first time) I’m still not entirely certain of either (a) what this cryptic information is supposed to suggest – is this car sought by police? Does it contain a criminal? A missing child? – nor (b) what I am supposed to do about it, even if I happen to see this vehicle – call 911? Call the police? Call my phone carrier?

    I can of course make some pretty reasonable assumptions regarding the answers to these questions, but shouldn’t an effort as important and as widespread as this one have some solid, detailed, easily-discoverable information about it?

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