FEMA to test Wireless Emergency Alert System Wednesday

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While the Emergency Alert System has been tested before, the Wednesday test will be the first time the nationwide Wireless Emergency Alert system will be tested.

The warning system "provides the president with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency", FEMA said on its website.

The test has been scheduled to ensure that the alert system would work in the event of a national emergency. "No action is needed".

The cellphone alert will be accompanied by a similar test of the Emergency Alert System, an older system that handles radio and television. The message will be broadcast by cell towers for 30 minutes, so it's possible some people may get it at a different time.

The goal the Wireless Emergency Alerts is to be able to reach out to the public through cell phones about critical situations.

The test originally had been scheduled for September 20, but was postponed to Wednesday, its backup date, because of Hurrican Florence. Radio and television will immediately follow with a test, as well. Others will not. No action is required. The first message should arrive at 11:18AM PT / 2:18PM ET as the WEA test is performed.

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Coming Wednesday to most American cellphones: a presidential text alert. The alert can not be a personal message on behalf of the president.

The lawsuit compares the alert system to "hijacking private property for the objective of planting a Government-controlled loudspeaker in the home and on the person of every American".

Sorry, but you can't opt out of receiving this alert (nor can you silence it on your phone unless you set the device in "Do Not Disturb" mode, which varies by phone model).

The test is for a Presidential Alert, a type of Wireless Emergency Alert only used for major emergencies that affect the entire country. It is similar to monthly tests of the system the public is accustomed to hearing.

You may be reading this on Wednesday because you wonder what on Earth is going on - particularly if your phone has made a unusual noise - but there's nothing to worry about. The alert system, called "Wireless Emergency Alert" could potentially be used for critical situations ranging from unsafe weather conditions to missile attacks.