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Published: Wednesday, October 03, 2018 @ 1:25 PM
By: Shelby Lin Erdman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
— 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.
Here’s what to know about the test:
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.
REMINDER: Next Wednesday 10/3 at 2:18 PM EDT, we will conduct a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alert system, in coordination w/@FCC. You’ll get a message box on your phone with a tone & vibration. This is not a text & your phone number is not shared with anyone. pic.twitter.com/7gkuWJQoXO— FEMA (@fema) September 27, 2018
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.”
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.