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INDIANAPOLIS — When you get a “Presidential Alert” on your cell phone this afternoon, don’t panic — it’s only a test!

FEMA will conduct a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alert system today at 2:18 p.m. EDT/1:18 p.m. CDT.

A test emergency alert message will be sent to all cell phones that are turned on, within range of a cell tower, and on a network whose carrier participates in the WEA system.

You’ll know you’ve received the test when you get a message with a header that reads, “Presidential Alert.”

The WEA system is the same system that sends information about severe weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones.

Presidential Alerts are only issued in the event of a national emergency. The alerts are issued at the direction of the President and/or his or her designee and activated by FEMA.

What to Expect

  • You’ll hear a special alert tone and vibration, repeated twice.
  • A message box will pop up with a header that reads, “Presidential Alert”.
  • The message will say, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.

Presidential alerts cannot be blocked, which means you won’t be able to opt out of the test by changing the alert settings on your phone.

The WEA test will be followed by a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System at 2:20 p.m. EDT. 

Both tests were originally scheduled for Sept. 20 but were postponed until Oct. 3 due to Hurricane Florence.

Click here to visit FEMA’s website and find out more about today’s national test.

(Photo by FEMA.)