Published: Wed, October 03, 2018
Industry | By Dora Warner

Nationwide test of presidential emergency alert system scheduled for Wednesday

Nationwide test of presidential emergency alert system scheduled for Wednesday

Tuscarawas County Emergency Management Agency Director Alex McCarthy says the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System was designed in the event the United States had a national emergency.

The WEA and EAS systems are used to warn the public about emergencies, such as unsafe weather or missing children, according to FEMA.

It is a part of FEMA's system to warn citizens in cases of national emergencies. Tomorrow afternoon, the FCC and FEMA will be conducting the nation's first test of its wireless emergency alert system.

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FEMA alongside the Federal Communications Commission plants to test devices as 12:18 p.m. (2:18 p.m. EDT). Some older phones, however, may not receive the alerts. It's the same tone used for severe weather alerts and AMBER alerts.

Millions of cell phones will beep, chirp and vibrate at exactly 2:18 p.m. Wednesday.

Cellphone users can opt out of natural disaster or missing children alerts, but not presidential alerts. "No action is needed", officials said. It's meant to test the operational readiness of the infrastructure that distributes the national message, and determine whether improvements need to be made. Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not.

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Federal Communications Commissioner Mike O'Rielly told reporters on Tuesday that an April 5 regional test of the emergency alert system in the Washington area showed some potential issues.

Officials say the initial test was supposed to take place last month, but was postponed due to ongoing response efforts for Hurricane Florence.

This would be the first time FEMA will test the cell phone alerts nationwide.

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Cell towers will broadcast the Presidential Alert for 30 minutes, but each phone "should only receive the message once", according to FEMA.

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