Warnings & Alerts

The ACT Emergency Services Agency issues warnings and alerts to keep the Canberra community safe.

Warnings & Alerts

In an emergency, the ACT Emergency Services Agency publishes warnings on this website and other communications channels.

For your survival, know where to find emergency information and keep informed of the latest updates.

Australian Warning System (AWS)

The Australian Warning System is a nationally consistent method of displaying warning information with three levels of threat.

Advice icon
Advice (Yellow) An incident has started. There is no immediate danger. Stay up to date in case the situation changes.
Watch & Act icon
Watch & Act (Orange) There is a heightened level of threat. Conditions are changing and you need to start taking action now to protect you and your family.
Emergency Warning icon
Emergency Warning (Red) An Emergency Warning is the highest level of warning. You may be in danger and need to act immediately. Any delay now puts your life at risk.

As well as the warning level, a warning will contain information on the situation, the expected impact on communities, and advice on what you should do to stay safe.

Hazard Types

Starting later in 2024 the Australian Warning System will be used for various hazards including bushfire, flood and heatwave.

Bushfire image
Flood image
Heatwave image
Other image

Over time, the system is intended to be implemented for even more hazards including HAZMAT incidents, cyclones and storms.

An emergency can happen when you least expect it, so, you need to know what to do.

Location Based Warnings

When a warning is issued, it will include information about the hazard location and impacted areas.

On the ACT Emergency Services Agency website and linked applications, you may see warnings displayed as an icon, or a polygon drawn around the affected area.

  • Yellow overlay and or icon: Advice
  • Orange overlay and or icon: Watch & Act
  • Red overlay and or icon: Emergency Warning
A map on a laptop screen showing a warning area
An example if an Emergency Warning overlay in the Ainslie region.

Using the ACT Emergency Services Agency Incidents Map, click or tap on the overlay or icon to see additional information relevant to the warning.

Emergency Alert

When a warning is issued in an actual or imminent emergency, you may receive a text message or phone call from 0444 444 444. Consider adding this number to your address book for future reference.

This is an Australian government number reserved for emergency information, and all messages should be treated as genuine. If in doubt, you can verify the information on the ACT Emergency Services Agency or ACT Policing websites.

Emergency Alert works by contacting all phones within a defined geographic area. If you’ve recently passed through or are close-by the target area, you may also receive the message.

It's important to check both the warning and your location to determine if the warning applies to you.

Read more about Emergency Alert

Standard Emergency Warning Signal or SEWS

Before an Emergency Warning is broadcast, you may here a distinct siren sound – called the Standard Emergency Warning Signal.

Media outlets including radio and television broadcasters use this sound to identify emergency warnings.

Where to go for more information

In an emergency, you can find additional information on the ACT Emergency Services Agency website and other channels.

  • Check the ACT Emergency Services Agency website (esa.act.gov.au)
  • Follow @ACTEmergencyServicesAgency on Facebook @ACT_ESA on X (formerly Twitter)
  • Download and monitor the Hazards Near Me mobile app
  • Listen to ABC Local Radio on 666 AM 
  • Contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81

If your life is at risk, do not wait for a warning. Leaving early is the safest option.

Additional Information

News Alerts

A feed of news alerts, updates, and warnings is published to the ACT Emergency Services Agency website and RSS Feed.

Journalists and media outlets can request to receive email and text-message news alerts by contacting esamedia@act.gov.au
Current Incidents

A feed of current incidents can be accessed via a GeoRSS feed. This data is updated every 60-seconds directly from the Computer Aided Dispatch System.

This feed does not provide information on warnings and alerts.
Common Alerting Protocol

The Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) is an international standard designed for the exchange of emergency alert and warning messages between various systems and networks.


creative commons licence

The News Alerts and Current Incidents feeds are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You are free to share and adapt the data under the condition that you attribute the data to the ACT Emergency Services Agency.