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(CNN) — If you have a cellphone, expect it to buzz and beep loudly this afternoon around 2:18 p.m. EDT.
“Presidential Alert,” the screen will say. “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
The article goes on to state the following:
It’s the first nationwide test of the system built by the federal government and cellphone carriers to warn Americans of an emergency, like a terror attack or a widespread disaster.
We’ve seen Amber Alerts for missing children and weather alerts for incoming thunderstorms or tornadoes. The presidential alert is like those, only it goes to virtually every cellphone in the country, and you can’t turn it off.
What is this?
The federal government has long had a system to issue alerts over television and radio. It has grown more sophisticated since it was created in the 1950s, and now includes a system to send warnings to cellphones, too. (The TV and radio system is tested monthly.) The buzz and tone have the same feel and sound as those used for the Amber and weather alerts. The system is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which says all of the country’s major cellphone carriers participate.
The test was originally scheduled for September but was postponed as FEMA responded to Hurricane Florence. The law behind the cellphone notification system, which was passed in 2016, requires FEMA to run a test at least every three years.
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Happening TODAY @ 2:18 PM EDT
Phones will display this national test using the header “Presidential Alert.” These nationwide alerts are meant for use in a national emergency and are the only type of alert that can be sent simultaneously nationwide by @fema. https://t.co/689ULqBwaZ
— Homeland Security (@DHSgov) October 3, 2018
On October 3, 2018 at appx 2:20 EDT @FEMA will issue a Nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts to test national warning capabilities. The test message will be sent to all radio, TV, and compatible cell phones. pic.twitter.com/LiLaO1PmPC
— Homeland Security (@DHSgov) September 20, 2018
Today all cell phones will receive an Emergency Alert from @fema ,the Federal Emergency Management Agency, beginning at 11:18 a.m. local time followed by another alert at 11:20. This is a scheduled Emergency Alert test. pic.twitter.com/Id60EsiAb7
— Peoria Unified (@PeoriaUnified11) October 3, 2018
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