You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

editorial

Phone alerts shouldn’t be overused — and, so far, aren’t

The fact that many Massachusetts cellphone users had never heard an emergency alert on their phone before last Tuesday night is a good indication that the feature hasn’t been over-used. In a special emergency, authorities can send out a warning to all cellphones in a geographic area. That’s what happened at 10:38 p.m. on Tuesday, when the National Weather Service sent out a flash-flood warning.

Continue reading it below

As it turns out, flooding was minimal, and some users complained about the loud and unusual alert. But weather is by its nature volatile, and just because the flooding didn’t materialize doesn’t mean the alert was unjustified. And as for the jarring sound: Alarms are supposed to be alarming. Had the emergency been worse, the buzzing could have saved lives.

Obviously, officials should use the system judiciously — and so far, it seems, they have. Only state and local public safety officials, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the president can send out alerts. The information they provide can be a matter of life and death; still, for cellphone users who absolutely can’t tolerate the remote chance of having their evening disturbed, they can always turn off their phones.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.