"If we have something that's of national significance, we can rapidly notify the American public of that event", FEMA's Antwane Johnson, who'll direct Wednesday's alert system, told CBS News. The test, according to FEMA, is meant to asses the readiness of the country's alert systems and is scheduled for 2:18 p.m. ET. WEA may also be referred to as "government alerts" or "emergency alerts".
The WEA is in addition to the Emergency Alert System, or EAS, which has been utilized for decades via broacast outlets. The alert will also test the reliability of the new "Presidential Alert".
As it's blasted out by cell towers nationwide over a 30-minute period, the message is expected to reach some 225 million people in an unprecedented federal exercise. Previous Emergency Alert Systems national tests were conducted in November 2011, September 2016 and September 2017 in collaboration with the FCC, broadcasters, and emergency management officials in recognition of FEMA's National Preparedness Month.
A second alert on television broadcasts and radio will go off at 2:20 p.m. EDT.
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The "presidential alert" will look and sound similar to other emergency notifications, such as amber and severe weather alerts.
FEMA reports that this alert is different from a text message, meaning you can not respond and that "your phone number is not shared with anyone". "No action is needed".
The EAS and WEA test messages will be sent using FEMA's Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), a centralized Internet-based system administered by FEMA that enables authorities to send authenticated emergency messages to the public through multiple communications networks. You'll hear two tones, followed by a vibration. If your cell is on and you have service, you will likely receive it and can not stop it. "No action is required".
Finally, FEMA says the test will not be used to steal your private data.
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Of course, to receive the alert, your phone will need to be turned on and connected to a cell tower that allows you to connect to your participating carrier. "According to FEMA, a nationwide WEA message would only be used in the most extreme emergency situation".