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Mass Warning and Notification at Navy Installations

YOKOSUKA, Japan (Oct. 30, 2007) - Sailors fix a weather deck megaphone that is part of the sound system aboard amphibious command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19). Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles T. Green (RELEASED) 071030-N-4399G-035

Each local community is responsible for warning the public of impending danger due to an emergency. Navy regions and installations support this effort through the Wide Area Alert Network (WAAN) to alert the Navy community within their jurisdictions. Overseas, this system includes warning sponsored family members living off base, ideally by integration with local or host-nation systems.

Navy Installations (worldwide) use the WAAN as an effective and reliable mass notification system to maximize the potential to warn and direct affected personnel during a crisis through multiple systems:

  • Giant Voice (GV)—A voice announcing system using exterior speakers, commonly termed "Giant Voice"
  • Interior Voice (IV)—Interior speakers or sirens
  • Computer Desktop Notification System (CDNS)—An administrative broadcast across Navy computer networks that overrides current applications, thereby reaching all Navy users almost instantly
  • Automated Telephone Notification System (ATNS)—Interactive, community notification systems capable of providing voice and/or data messages to multiple receivers—telephones, cellular phones, email, SMS (Text), etc.

Note: ATNS is only as effective as the data provided in the WAAN—Navy can’t alert you, if they can’t find you! Navy personnel with NMCI or OneNet access must self-register all home phones, cellular phones, and email addresses, etc. in the WAAN to receive notifications wherever they are.

Download a PDF of instructions on how to register in the WAAN.

Further, installations with significant on-base or nearby off-base family housing cooperate with local authorities for access to radio and television emergency communication systems. Most installations overseas have direct access to radio and/or television systems to support mass warning efforts.

Required, annual public awareness training for the Navy community includes information on the relevant regional and installation mass warning and notification systems. All members of the Navy community need to (1) be aware of which systems may be used under what conditions and (2) be prepared to take the appropriate action recommended by Navy and local authorities.

Mission-essential and emergency response personnel have additional, specialized communications procedures and systems.

Understanding Warnings, Gauging Response

The appropriate response to a potential hazard depends on its immediacy, reliability, severity, and scope. There are many different types of hazardous events with different time scales, and warning terminology may vary. In the United States, the main agencies that warn of natural hazards are the National Weather Service (NWS) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). NWS uses the following terms for specific natural hazards:

  • Warning—A hazardous event is occurring or imminent. Take immediate protective action.
  • Watch—Conditions are favorable for a hazard to develop or move in. Stay alert.

These terms are widely accepted throughout the media and the emergency management community and may be used to set specific response actions in motion.

The Emergency Alert System may be used by federal agencies to provide official information about national-level emergencies and at the state and local levels to provide emergency messages. Almost all radio and television stations participate in such broadcasts. Find out if your local stations do. The same technology is used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) All-Hazards Weather Radio system, on which USGS earthquake, volcano, and tsunami warnings also are released. Determine if NOAA Weather Radio is available where you live. If so, consider purchasing a NOAA weather radio receiver. Within the United States, it is recommended that all members of the Navy community integrate use of the Emergency Alert System into their individual or family emergency preparedness plans.

Your initial public awareness training will familiarize you with local emergency plans, including warning systems. Your installation's mass warning and notification system will alert you in the event of a potential or actual emergency and initiate the appropriate protective actions—evacuating, moving to civilian shelter, moving to a designated safe haven, or temporarily sheltering-in-place—based on predetermined action sets in response to specific indicators.


Be Ready Navy—Be informed before, during, and after an incident; make a written family emergency plan; and build an emergency supply kit good for at least three days.

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