Most U.S. cell phones to receive 'Presidential Alert' text on Wednesday, October 3rd

Published: Oct. 1, 2018 at 12:20 PM EDT
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At 2:18 PM on Wednesday, October 3, most cell phones in the U.S. will receive a "Presidential Alert" text message to test FEMA's National Wireless Emergency Alert System.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and other public safety agencies will use cell towers across the U.S. to broadcast a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) text message for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 2:18 PM on Wednesday, October 3.

FEMA says WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA should receive one test message, which will have a header that reads "Presidential Alert," and text that says “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The national test will use the same special ringtone and vibration as with all WEA messages (i.e. Tornado Warning, AMBER Alert). Users cannot opt out of receiving this WEA test.

FEMA's National Wireless Emergency Alert System is frequently used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones.

The test had been planned for September, but Hurricane Florence preparedness and response efforts prompted FEMA and the FCC to postpone it until Oct. 3.