A new system from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could soon mean that the president of the United States could send alerts directly to your phone. But it won't be a political message or attack on one of his perceived enemies-or at least, it's not supposed to be.
Compatible cell phones will receive a text message that reads "Presidential Alert" and "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System".
If you can't remember this happening before-you're correct.
The goal of the new alert option, according to FEMA, is to add a new way for the government to reach people in major disasters and other emergencies - something the existing emergency alert system already does on other formats such as radio and television.
The WEA portion of the test commences at 2:18 p.m. EDT, and the EAS portion follows at 2:20 p.m. EDT. "No action is needed", the message will say.
The president is the only one who can determine if an alert needs to be sent out.
This is the fourth EAS nationwide test and the first national WEA test.
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Mobile alerts sent through the WEA system are now categorized as imminent threats about emergencies in an area, including extreme weather, AMBER alerts for missing children or "Presidential alerts about emergencies of national effect", FEMA said.
The system is also used to warn the public about risky weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. The systems allows the president the "communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency".
When the test happens at 1:18 p.m. central time on September 20, people will hear a tone twice followed by a vibration and the message: "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System".
During this time, cell phones that are switched on and within range of an active cell tower should be capable of receiving the test message.
The EAS is also used with radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers, the agency said.
If the test is postponed for some reason, the back-up date is Wednesday, Oct. 3.