'Presidential Alert' Emergency Text System to be Tested Wednesday

Nick Kangadis | October 2, 2018
Font Size

Ever want to get a text message from the president? Well, you can now…kind of.

On Wednesday, a new “Presidential Alert” system will send a test text message to all cell phones “that are connected to wireless providers participating in WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerts),” according to a press release by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

According to the press release:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS) on the backup date of October 3, 2018 due to ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence. The WEA portion of the test commences at 2:18 p.m. EDT, and the EAS portion follows at 2:20 p.m. EDT. The test will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed.

The WEA test message will be sent to cell phones that are connected to wireless providers participating in WEA. This is the fourth EAS nationwide test and the first national WEA test. Previous EAS national tests were conducted in November 2011, September 2016,  and September 2017 in collaboration with the FCC, broadcasters, and emergency management officials in recognition of FEMA’s National Preparedness Month.

You should see the following text message, with the header “Presidential Alert,” hit your cell phones on Wednesday:

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

While FEMA has not indicated exactly which cell phones companies will be participating in the alert system, their website does indicate that “more than 100 providers, including the largest providers participate in the WEA program.”

As long as this system sticks to notifying people of actual emergencies that might affect the area the emergency lies in, this could be a huge life-saving program.

Just don’t send me a text every time the president tweets. I'll go over my data limit!