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FEMA Tests New Presidential Emergency Alert System On Cellphones

In case you missed it, the Federal Emergency Management Agency tested its first wireless alert system on Wednesday ― a new feature that will allow President Donald Trump to send emergency messages to the majority of American cellphones.

The wireless emergency alerts (WEA) will come in three forms: presidential alerts during a national emergency, warnings about extreme weather and other threatening emergencies in your local area, and AMBER alerts. The WEAs will have a special tone and vibration that will be repeated twice.

The test alert messages, sent on Wednesday at 2:18 p.m. Eastern time, read “Presidential Alert,” followed by “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” 

It is not possible to opt out of receiving the presidential messages, which by law are not allowed to be political in any way. Users can opt out of the other WEA messages about imminent threats and AMBER alerts by adjusting the settings on their mobile device, FEMA said.

More than 100 mobile carriers are participating in the program, the agency said, meaning nearly all cellphones will receive the alerts. Older models that are not WEA-capable will not.

This week’s test was originally scheduled for Sept. 20 but it was delayed due to Hurricane Florence.

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