Why your phone is going to buzz and sound an alarm on Wednesday

Smartphones across America will receive a scheduled test of the emergency alert system on Oct. 4 at about 2:20 p.m.

FEMA Puerto Rico

FEMA is working with the FCC to send out a nationwide test of the emergency alert system.
The test will be held on Wednesday, October 4 at about 2:20 p.m. and will last for about 30 minutes.
Cell phones across the US will receive alerts saying “This is a test,” and “no action is needed.”

On Wednesday afternoon, your phone will probably get an alert if you live in the US. Don’t be alarmed, it’s just a scheduled test from the emergency alert system.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, more commonly known as FEMA, is working with the Federal Communications Commission and Puerto Rico Emergency Management Bureau to send out a test of the emergency alert system. The agency says the alert will go out on Oct. 4 at about 2:20 p.m., so you can expect to see a notification on your phone around that time.

The Oct. 4 notification will be broadcast by cell towers for about 30 minutes, but the emergency alert should only last about one minute, according to FEMA. Your phone will vibrate and make a sound as you get a text message with the alert, which will also play on TVs and radios. 

The phone alert will show the text, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed,” according to FEMA. Those who have their phone’s language set to Spanish will receive a notification in Spanish. The notification will be sent out to everyone in the US, Puerto Rico, and Guam that is within range of a cell tower. 

“These test alerts are necessary to verify that the system is working properly so that, in a real case, citizens will know what to do,” Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency Commissioner Nino Correa Filomeno said, according to the FEMA press release.

The EAS normally sends out notifications for severe weather and amber alerts, according to the FCC. It is able to broadcast messages by radio and TV, along with wireless emergency alerts that are received via text message.

FEMA and the FCC testing out the emergency alert system is not out of the ordinary. The EAS was also tested in 2021. FEMA also sent out a test of the “presidential alert” system back in 2018.

The EAS is not immune to human error or ill-intentioned hackers. The most notable mistake was the 2018 alert warning those in Hawaii of an incoming ballistic missile, which sent many residents and vacationers into a panic. A more absurd example is from 2013 when hackers sent out a zombie apocalypse alert in Montana. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

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