FEMA Will Test a ‘Presidential Alert’ Today for Cellphones in the U.S. [Updated]

FEMA's presidential alert test in the United States

Your cellphone is capable of alerting you to pressing matters, whether it be a weather advisory for your area or an AMBER alert, and now it can handle “presidential alerts”, too.

On Wednesday, October 3, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will be sending out what is called a “presidential alert”. This isn’t a direct message from the President of the United States, but rather a test of a nationwide alert message. It will be delivered at 11:18 PM PST/2:18 PM EST today.

When you receive the notification on your device, you should see “presidential alert, this is a test of the national wireless emergency alert system. No action is needed”. Indeed, you can simply dismiss the message as soon as it arrives.

This is the first test that FEMA is required to handle every three years, as part of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. The bill that brought this to life was initially passed in 2016, so this is the first time the test has been implemented. But, from this point on, the test should occur every three years.

This is the sort of notification that won’t be missed by most phones, unless they are powered off completely (or if they’re in the middle of a phone call). Even if the handset is missing a SIM card or isn’t activated, if it’s on and not in a phone call it will receive the notification. They can’t be disabled, either. The notification will sound like the AMBER alert or extreme weather alert. And Apple Watch owners, if the smartwatch is connected to your iPhone during the time of the notification your smartwatch will get the warning, too.

Update: The U.S. government ran the first nationwide test of the new emergency alert system at 2:18 PM ET today. The message was received by most wireless users, though many AT&T users reported that they got the message only after they rebooted their smartphone.

[via Apple Insider]