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Messages are sent by the Virginia Tech Police Department, Office of Emergency Management, or University Relations, depending on the nature of the urgent situation.

VT Alerts are activated:

  • When there is a required near term action on the part of the university community such as:
    • Sheltering from a storm
    • Cancelling classes on short notice
  • A dangerous situation that could impinge on personal safety either locally or generally, such as a chemical spill, bomb threat, or dangerous person.
  • When the Police Department or university administration determines there is an immediate threat to the university community by the presence of certain persons or when the timeliness of the notice may assist in locating an offender.

Please note: During a situation when VT Alerts recipients are instructed to stay where they are, Blacksburg Transit (BT) will be suspended to minimize traffic to campus. Scenarios in which recipients would be advised to “shelter in place” include tornado warnings or other instances when people on campus are advised to seek shelter or, if already indoors, should stay in their current location. 

Without taking any action, you will receive emergency notifications for the Blacksburg region through all delivery methods except for by phone call, text message, email address, or desktop notification. 

Yes, VT Alerts uses multiple channels to deliver urgent information. You should expect to receive duplicate messages. For example, if you are in a classroom in Blacksburg, you can expect to see a notification on the electronic message board, as well as those methods selected in your VT Alerts account. This redundancy is intentional to ensure important information reaches as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.

Yes, the university will test all emergency notification channels of VT Alerts at least once each fall and spring semester. The university community will be informed when each test is scheduled.

When testing VT Alerts, Virginia Tech administrators will always include in the subject line or in the message a clear statement that the message is a test. Urgent messages will carry subject lines such as "Emergency Alert," "Weather Alert," or "Campus Advisory."

Sign up here.

In addition to choosing contact methods, you can also select up to three regions. After you login, the region(s) area will show the location(s) where you are currently subscribed to receive alerts. To change or add a location, click the (Change) link and select a different region. 

The message sender will appear as follows:

  • For a text message: 89361
  • For a phone call: 540-232-1000
  • For an email:

Here are some likely reasons:

  • Quick confirmation: At the end of the alert, you will be prompted to confirm receipt. Once VT Phone Alerts receives confirmation, by design the system will not attempt to send the message to other points of contact.
  • Spam filters: Spam filters may block email messages from being delivered; to prevent this, add to your "safe senders" list.
  • Network issues: Network congestion may also delay delivery. You may want to check with your mobile service or email provider to ensure there are no issues with its network or software.
  • Delivery size: The VT Phone Alerts system contains more than 40,000 subscribers, each with the option to choose up to three methods of contact: text message, email message, or phone. Although the same message is sent to each contact, the technology used to distribute the message varies by the selected method. A message is sent in cycles, which consists of an attempt to contact each subscriber in their preferred order until a confirmation is received. When one cycle is completed, a second cycle starts and sends a message to each subscriber that did not previously confirm. With the current number of subscribers, it may take up to 20 minutes to complete a cycle before a new one begins.

Please note: VT Alerts subscriptions are intended to communicate urgent information to students, faculty, and staff on campus during an emergency. For that reason, it is very important that you carefully consider your points of contact. If you have included parents, spouses, or others among your points of contact, we strongly suggest listing yourself as the first point of contact. To review your account, sign in.

Each method of contact (text message, email, and/or phone) uses different technology to distribute an alert. While the system is very robust, it also has limitations that affect the delivery process. Through testing and prior alert distributions, university officials have determined that confirming a text or email message may not prevent an attempted contact via telephone if that method has been chosen.

The VT Alerts system attempts to deliver messages according to the subscriber’s preferences. Because of technical limitations, however, text messages generally may be delivered with, or even prior to, a telephone contact, regardless of the chosen order.

The information provided will be used only for emergency notifications.

Depending on the type of emergency, Virginia Tech may or may not send messages according to the preference ranking indicated in your account.

All students who are graduating or who otherwise will no longer be a Virginia Tech student are asked to unsubscribe to VT Alerts. By unsubscribing, you will help the system deliver messages to those who truly need to receive information when messages are sent.
Accounts will be deactivated if a student has not registered for classes after any four continuous semesters (e.g., fall, spring, summer session one, and summer session two). Any student can activate or reactivate an account upon registering for classes in any semester. Accounts will be immediately deactivated if it has been determined (after due process) that you have intentionally abused or harmed the system.
You will be notified when your subscription is deactivated. When you access VT Alerts, you will be provided with the current status of your subscription.

Since this will be a means to notify you in an emergency situation, we strongly recommend that you provide contact information for YOU, the subscriber. Consider using methods of contact that you check frequently. If you are a Virginia Tech employee, you may want to add your office phone number as one of the contact methods.

To change your notification preferences at any time, login to You can change the type of contacts (text, phone, or non Virginia Tech email) and notification preferences. To unsubscribe completely from receiving VT Alerts to your phone or email address, choose the "Unsubscribe from VT Alerts" link on the page.

If you are in a region other than Blacksburg, and choose not to subscribe to VT Alerts, you will likely receive no emergency notification information other than to your email address. For that reason, you are strongly encouraged to sign up for VT Alerts and select those regions relevant to you.

You are responsible for making all updates or changes to your contact information. Virginia Tech does not update your information from other sources. Individual subscribers MUST update their contact information from either My VT ( or the VT Alerts website ( It is especially important to change your contact information when you change cell phone carriers or if you change your phone number.

No. Virginia Tech will not verify the accuracy of the data you enter. If you enter inaccurate contact data, the data will remain inaccurate until it is changed by you.

No. The contact data you provide will not be used to update any other Virginia Tech systems.

The contact data you enter will be provided to a third-party vendor for purposes of notifying you in the event of an emergency. No identifying information (such as your name, etc.) will be provided to the third-party vendor.
The third-party vendor has agreed that it has no right to use your contact information for any purpose other than notifying you via VT Alerts. The vendor does not have rights to sell, disclose, or trade your contact information. When required by law (e.g., in compliance with a subpoena or court order) your contact information may be disclosed.
Only the individuals employed by Virginia Tech who must use this information to administer and manage VT Alerts will have access to your contact information.

VT Alerts is free to all students, faculty, and staff. Virginia Tech will not charge the subscriber a fee. Whether you are charged for text messages received through VT Alerts will depend on the terms of your contract with your service provider.

Contact 4-Help at 540-231-4357.

Yes. The software is available and can be downloaded. Please note that you will receive alerts — whenever they occur — that are posted using Virginia Tech's emergency notification system when your computer is on and connected to the internet.

Follow any instructions given in the alert message. Check the university home page for updates and additional information.

After the alert is dismissed, the Desktop Alerts icon in your task tray or menu bar will continue to flash until the message is cleared by university officials. Click the icon and choose the "Show Current Alert" option to view the alert again.

After installing Desktop Alerts, click its icon in the task tray or menu bar and choose Preferences from the menu. From the Preferences panel, choose Test Your Settings to verify that the software is properly installed and configured to your liking.
Whenever you are logged into your computer, Desktop Alerts checks the alert status with the university's emergency notification system. If the software cannot contact the emergency notification system, the icon will be "badged" with a yellow warning shield. If you see the yellow shield, on the icon, click the icon to see a description of the problem.

The most common reason for such problems is that your computer is not connected to the internet. Check your internet connection using a web browser to connect to If you are in a wireless "hot spot" (for example, in a café or other public wireless location), you may need to log in using your browser before your computer can access the internet. If the problem persists, please contact 4-Help at 540-231-4357.

The Desktop Alerts software provides several configurable options. Click the icon in your task tray or menu bar and choose Preferences from the menu to change these options.

On Windows, the primary display is used to display the alert. This is the display identified as display "1" in the Display Settings control panel.

On Mac OS X, the alert will pop up on the display that contains the window in which you are currently working.

Virginia Tech recommends that you download and install updates as they become available.

If you wish to permanently remove the software from your computer, an uninstaller is provided. Search using the keywords "VT Desktop Alerts Uninstall" for detailed instructions.