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Survey: Americans Most Responsive to Emergency Alerts on Their Cell Phones

Date: 2014-07-28
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CallFire Study Reveals Text as Preferred Method of Communication in Emergency Situations

As much of the country continues cleanup from tornadoes, hurricanes and ongoing severe summer storms, findings from a new study released by CallFire and conducted online by Harris Poll among 2,100 U.S. adults 18 and older show that three in five Americans (59%) say they are more likely to pay attention to emergency alerts, from hurricane warnings to Amber alerts, sent to their phone as opposed to other methods such as roadside signs or TV. The study provides insight into cell phones as the preferred first mode of communication in an emergency, but also as the means by which many Americans prefer to conduct other, more commonplace, daily tasks.  

Findings from the study include:

This is an emergency; this is not a test
In an emergency situation, 90% of adults say the first way they try to reach friends and family is by phone. 

  • Two-thirds of Americans (67%) say they would like to receive real-time text updates on potential weather related emergencies in their area
    • 75% of parents of children under 18 agree
    • 64% of adults without children under 18 agree
  • 59% of adults say they are more likely to pay attention to emergency alerts sent to their phone over another method
  • Millennials (18-34), perhaps surprisingly, are the least likely to say they try to reach loved ones by phone first in an emergency (85%) as compared with 95% of those 65 and older, 92% of those 55-64, 93% of those 45-54 and 87% of those ages  35-44.

Ignorance is bliss?
A strong majority of Americans (71%) say they have found themselves in a severe weather or emergency situation without power and/or access to Internet or television and 41% have been unaware of a local disaster in real-time. 

  • Despite being constantly connected, those 18-34 were the most likely (46%) to say they’ve been in a situation where they were unaware of a local disaster or emergency in real time, as compared to those ages 35-44 (40%), 45-54 (39%), 55-64 (41%) and 65 and older (35%) 
  • Men are more likely than women to have been unaware of a local emergency, at 44% vs. 38%

Don’t call us, we’ll text you
It’s not just emergency notifications that Americans find useful on their cell phones. As our devices have become an integral part of our daily lives, consumers look to them more and more for daily tasks. A majority of Americans (59%) say they would prefer to do any of the following activities via text rather than by phone or email: receive reminders for appointments or to pay bills, receive discounts or coupons, change a password, or get updates about flight changes or cancellations.

  • Specifically, among those who would like to conduct these activities by text:
    • Three-quarters of U.S. adults (75%) would prefer to receive an appointment reminder via text
    • Three in five (60%) would like to receive a reminder to pay bills or pay their bills by text
    • Over half (52%) want to receive a discount code or coupon 
    • Nearly half (47%) would prefer to receive flight cancellations or changes over text
    • One in five (21%) would rather change a password via text rather than phone or email

To learn more about CallFire, the cloud-based text and voice communications platform that helps organizations market to prospects and customers, go to:

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States between June 19 and 23, 2014 among 2,100 adults aged 18 and older by Harris Poll on behalf of Callfire. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Jenny Davis at or 925-935-2558.

- People, Places & Things/ (via CallFire, 7/24/14)


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