7 things to know about the ‘Presidential Alert’ test

Published: Wednesday, October 03, 2018 @ 1:25 PM

What is FEMA?

Millions of cellphones will buzz and vibrate Wednesday when the Federal Emergency Management Agency tests the Emergency Alert System Wednesday afternoon and sends its first “Presidential Alert” using the Wireless Emergency Alert system.

>> Read more trending news 

Here’s what to know about the test: 

Content Continues Below

It was postponed from Sept. 20 to Oct. 3, the back-up date, because of Hurricane Florence, which struck the Carolinas last month.

This is the first test of the national Wireless Emergency Alert system.

The test will start at 2:18 p.m. EDT and last about 30 minutes. Since the message will be broadcast from cell towers, FEMA said some people might get it at different times.

In order to receive the alert, a device must be in range of an active cellphone tower and the owner’s wireless provider must be participating in the test.

Cellphone users will hear a tone like a tornado warning or Amber Alert and see a text with the subject line of “Presidential Alert.” The text will read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

>> Related: After delay, presidential emergency alert to be tested this week

A second alert on television and radio will start at 2:20 p.m. EDT, but the national Emergency Alert System has been tested before.

The “presidential” alert would only be used in case of a real national emergency, according to FEMA.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The IPAWS National Test for emergency alert systems takes place Sept. 20, 2018.(Federal Emergency Management Agency)