Do you live in America? Do you own a cellphone? If you answered yes to both questions, expect a loud message to come through today.
This afternoon, at around 2:18 p.m. EDT. cellphones across America will receive a ‘Presidential alert’.
Screens will say. “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
The message will mark the first nationwide test of the system, built by the federal government and cellphone carriers to warn Americans of an emergency, like a terror attack or a widespread disaster.
Traditionally the government has used television and radio to convey these kinds of message to the country’s citizens, now pretty much every telephone will be able to receive warnings.
The test was originally scheduled for September but was pushed back due to Hurricane Florence. The law passed by FEMA, requires the mobile system to be tested at least every three years.
FEMA officials will choose from several pre-written messages before sending out the warning.
“The President will not originate this alert, say, from his mobile device,” a senior FEMA official told reporters on Tuesday. “You would not have a situation where any sitting president would wake up one morning and attempt to send a particular message.”
Back in January a warning was mistakenly sent to citizens in Hawaii, warning of an incoming missile, that didn’t exist.
What would you do if you got a message like this?
An emergency missile alert was sent to everyone in Hawaii, causing mass panic as people thought they were about to die. It later turned out to be false!
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— MAX 102.3 FM (@Max1023FM) January 16, 2018