‘Presidential Alert’: FEMA to test emergency alert system next week
Cell phone users may receive a text from President Donald Trump next Thursday as the Federal Emergency Management Agency conducts its first presidential-level Wireless Emergency Alert test.
On September 20, FEMA will test its WEA system by sending out a text with the header “Presidential Alert” and the message, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
The system is used to warn the public in cases of emergency, such as dangerous weather, and missing children.
FEMA will begin testing its WEA system at 2:18 p.m. ET to assess its “operational readiness” and make improvements if need be, the agency said in a press release this week. The WEA test will be broadcast over the course of about 30 minutes and sound the same as an AMBER Alert. Users can’t opt out of the WEA test, according to FEMA.
Cell phone users who have their phones turned on, are within range of a cell tower and whose wireless providers are included in the WEA system will receive the text message.
FEMA will also run a test of its Emergency Alert System (EAS) for radio and television broadcasters the same day, beginning two minutes after the WEA test.
In its news release, FEMA said it could postpone the national test to October 3 if the agency is dealing with a major weather event, but it has not yet made that determination. FEMA is currently handling the response to Hurricane Florence which hit the Carolinas on Friday, causing heavy winds and rainfall in the region.
FEMA officials told CNN on Saturday morning it is still planning to conduct the test this week.
The agency is required to conduct a nationwide test of its public alert systems no less than once every three years under the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2015.
FEMA is also tasked with ensuring that the President can alert the public under all conditions in cases of national emergencies, including natural disasters and terrorist threats.