President Donald Trump's "Presidential Alert" test is coming to your cellphone.
Cellphone users can opt out of most alerts through the Integrated National Public Warning System, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency uses to transmit the messages, but presidential alerts will be mandatory. Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes.
The idea behind the WEA is to be able to deliver alerts of different kinds to people all over the U.S. but to also be able to target them to specific geographic regions when necessary. So older phones with updated software may still get the alerts.
After a high-profile delay last month caused by Hurricane Florence, a new national alert system will be tested Wednesday afternoon.
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"Users may opt out of receiving alerts in the imminent threat and AMBER categories but can not opt out of receiving Presidential alerts", the agency said.
Those interested can visit https://www.fema.gov/emergency-alert-test, for additional information. The Communications Act of 1934 lets the president use private sector communication platforms for emergency messages. Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not.
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FEMA released an image of what the "Presidential Alert" message will look like (pictured above).
Most newer wireless phones are WEA compatible, but you can check your phone's packaging or instructions to see if it is WEA-capable. "No action is needed", officials said.
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If this had been an actual emergency alert, an official message would have followed the alert tone you heard at the start of this message. Those who did not receive the message may have been on a phone call or had their phone turned off, for example.
Starting Thursday, FEMA will roll out 'Presidential Alerts'.
According to the FEMA website, "IPAWS enables public safety alerting authorities such as emergency managers, police, and fire departments to send the same alert and warning message over multiple communication pathways at the same time to citizens in harm's way, helping to save lives".
Since 2012, FEMA and other government agencies have used the alert system to send over 40,000 messages regarding abductions and severe weather.
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