Don’t be alarmed when your phone buzzes incessantly with an emergency alert from the president Wednesday afternoon — it’s only a test.
But unlike the emergency alerts and AMBER alerts that you can toggle off on your smartphone, you won’t be able to switch off the notification for this “presidential alert,” which is designed to be used “in the event of a national emergency,” the Federal Emergency Management Agency says.
The special Presidential Alert will be pretty similar to any emergency alert you’ve gotten before. Your phone will vibrate and emit a loud abrasive tone that’s likely to freak you out if you’re not anticipating it. A message will also appear on your screen that says, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
That means you might want to prepare yourself now for the flurry of incessant buzzing and loud alarming sounds that will take over your office Wednesday. Anyone with a wireless cell phone will receive a test emergency message Wednesday anytime between 2:18 p.m. Eastern and the half-hour window that follows.
This will be the first time ever the government is testing the national emergency alert system. The test was originally scheduled for Sept. 20, but was postponed so FEMA could focus on responding to Hurricane Florence.
FEMA first created the alert system to adhere to a law passed in 2016 under former President Barack Obama, which gives the president the ability to send out nationwide alerts addressing public safety issues.
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