The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is finally testing the new U.S. “presidential alert” system after the initial test was delayed for nearly two weeks.
The alert is planned to go out to approximately 225 million compatible phones across the U.S. on Wednesday at 2:18 pm ET. The message should read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
The alert is expected to appear and sound similar to AMBER and severe weather alerts. But unlike those notices, there’s currently not a clear way to opt out of “presidential alerts” on smartphones. Navigating to your phones’ notification settings and turning off “Emergency Alerts” could do the trick, but if you want any guarantee that you won’t hear this alert, you’ll probably just have to turn off your phone entirely.
At 2:20 pm, two minutes after the message is sent to cell phones, it’ll hit TVs and radios.
The test was originally supposed to go out on September 20, but was delayed because FEMA was focused on its emergency response to Hurricane Florence.
The system is being put in place so that the president can alert the majority of Americans of major emergencies and threats to public safety, like terrorism acts or natural disasters. Many fear that Trump will use the system to blast every phone with his angry rants about the Deep State, but that is unlikely as every message is supposed to go through FEMA and involves a complicated process of mass delivery.
“The system is very well governed and rooted in law in terms of its intended use,” FEMA’s public warning system director Antwane Johnson told the Wall Street Journal. “You are not going to have a situation where the president wakes up one morning” and sends an alert.