The first FEMA Presidential Alert just hit phones across the US

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Update 2:38PM ET: The FEMA test Presidential Alert warning successfully out at 2:18PM ET to phones across the country, right on schedule. As expected, the alert followed the existing emergency alert systems on existing smartphones, with the regular tone — although the Presidential Alert heading is new.

According to FEMA’s alert, “Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not. No action is required.” — so if for some reason, you didn’t get the notification there’s no need to worry. Here’s what it looks like, though, if you’re curious.


Today at 2:18PM ET, FEMA will send out a “Presidential Alert” to nearly every single cellphone in the country to test its Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). In other words, President Trump will text you (and every other US resident) this afternoon — but there’s no need to be alarmed.

If you’ve ever received a severe weather alert, flood warning, or Amber Alert on your phone, you can expect something similar with the Presidential Alert. The difference is that instead of notifying a local area, the new test will (assuming all goes right) notify nearly every cellphone user in the country. The alert system is meant to give the White House the ability to issue a notification to the entire US in the instance of an emergency so there’s no way to opt out of the message.

Along with today’s message at 2:18PM, FEMA will also test its Emergency Alert System, which will broadcast the same message two minutes later at 2:20PM on TV and radio.

The test was originally scheduled to happen on September 20th, but it was postponed due to an ongoing severe weather emergency response that was taking place in various parts of the country.

If you’re curious, FEMA has already published the text of the message, so here’s what to expect later today.

THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System. This system was developed by broadcast and cable operators in voluntary cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and local authorities to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency an official message would have followed the tone alert you heard at the start of this message. A similar wireless emergency alert test message has been sent to all cell phones nationwide. Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not. No action is required.”

Correction: The FEMA test will go out to US phone numbers, not only citizens as this article originally stated. Additionally, not every phone will get the alert.

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