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What You Need to Know About Presidential Alerts

1:24 PM, Oct 03, 2018


Gabriela Milian

You can expect to get an alert with the headlined, " Presidential Alert, " on your cell phone on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at exactly 2:18 p.m. EST.

No, it's not from United States President Donald Trump. It's a test of a new nationwide warning system that any president could use in case of an emergency. For example, an armed attack by another country or a widespread natural disaster.

Presidential Alerts

Wednesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission will test the Wireless Emergency Alerts and Emergency Alert System.

The Wireless Emergency Alerts test is the first national, "Presidential Alert."

Amber Alerts send a notification to many smartphone users when a child goes missing. The alert will also send a notification when there are bad weather conditions, like a flash flood or tornado, depending upon where the owner of the phone is in the United States. Amber Alerts are similar to the Presidential Alert, however, with the latter you can't opt out.

Your cell phone will begin to vibrate and a loud obnoxious beep will be heard. "Presidential Alert," a text will state. "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will run this new alert system, said all of the country's major cell phone carriers will participate.

Despite the title of the alert, the president of the United States is not writing it. But, there are several prewritten messages by officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with other government agencies. The White House will customize future messages to fit the emergency, then send the alert out to the American masses.

Since this specific alert is meant to reach most, if not all cell phones, the Federal Communications Commission said it will not collect people's data. The government agency will ask smartphone service providers for feedback about how the test went.

A law passed in 2016 requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency to run a test at least every three years. The "Presidential Alert" test was originally scheduled to debut in September, but because of the Federal Emergency Management Agency responding to Hurricane Florence , the test was rescheduled.