The Federal Emergency Management Agency posted on their Facebook page yesterday that today at 2:18 PM EST, we'll all get an emergency alert message sent to our mobile phones in a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alert system.

To forewarn you of what to expect in hopes of avoiding any freakouts (maybe warn the kids and elderly people in your life),here's what should happen:

🔸 You’ll hear a loud tone & vibration.
🔸 A message box will pop up on the screen and will show a message that starts with “THIS IS A TEST” and ends with “No action is needed.”
🔸 If you’re watching TV or listening to the radio, you may also see or hear a test message around the same time.

This nationwide test is to ensure that during a major national emergency affecting public safety, it will be possible to alert people quickly. FEMA and the Federal Communications Commission will be evaluating the readiness of the emergency alert infrastructure to see if improvements are needed.

Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT. During this time, WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA should be capable of receiving the test message. Some cell phones will not receive the test message, and cell phones should only receive the message once. The WEA test message will have a header that reads "Presidential Alert" and text that says:

The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages (i.e. Tornado Warning, AMBER Alert). Users cannot opt out of receiving the WEA test.

The wireless alert system launched in 2012.


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