Federal Government Sending Emergency Alerts to Cell Phones on Wednesday, October 4th


Don't be surprised if your cellphone receives an emergency alert on Wednesday afternoon (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com)

Don't be alarmed this Wednesday at 2:20 p.m. when your phone starts emitting a high pitched alarm: the federal government is planning on conducting a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert and Wireless Emergency Alert Systems at that time.

This means that most cellphones in the United States will receive a Wireless Emergency Alert and and all radios and televisions will also receive emergency alerts that will be transmitted to anyone listening and watching.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, “[t]he purpose of the Oct. 4 test is to ensure that the systems continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level”. 

The text that every cellphone should receive will state “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

If you are listening to a radio or watching a television, you should hear or see the following message for around one minute: “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering the United States from 14:20 to 14:50 hours ET. This is only a test. No action is required by the public.”

There have been several previous times when there have been similar tests of the EAS and EWA as well as several mistakes that caused annoyance and, in one case, extreme fear in some of the people who received the warning. 

The latter incident happened on the morning of January 13, 2018 when a state emergency management worker in Hawaii mistakenly pushed the incorrect button and sent a false warning out about an incoming ballistic missile threat through cellphones, radios, and televisions.

If all goes as planned on Wednesday, the messages will, at the most, be slightly annoying rather than terrifying.

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