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New 'Presidential Alert' set to go out at 2:18 p.m. Wednesday

 
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS) at 2:18 p.m. Wednesday. [FEMA]
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS) at 2:18 p.m. Wednesday. [FEMA]
Published Oct. 3, 2018

By SUHAUNA HUSSAIN

Times Staff Writer

Cell phones across the country are set to light up with a message from the federal government at 2:18 p.m. on Wednesday. That's assuming all goes as planned with the new system for sending emergency alerts nationwide.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is coordinating with the Federal Communications Commission to send out a "Presidential Alert."

It's similar to the local amber alerts about missing children and weather warnings that area already sent to cell phones, except this one would be sent out by President Trump and future presidents.

The message set to go out will read: "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System." The alert system, called "Wireless Emergency Alert" could potentially be used for critical situations ranging from dangerous weather conditions to missile attacks.

Federal agencies also plan to broadcast minute-long test messages on television and radio at 2:20 p.m.

This would be the first time FEMA will test the cell phone alerts nationwide. The agency has tested its radio and television alerts through its "Emergency Alert System" on a national level three times before, according to the federal agency.

"This test is intended to ensure public safety officials have the methods and systems in place that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public in times of emergency or disaster," according to a FEMA statement.

The test was originally planned for Sept. 20, but was postponed as the government mobilized the response to Hurricane Florence.

Cell phones that are turned on and in the range of a cell tower should receive the test message, which will be broadcast for 30 minutes. Some older phones, however, may not receive the alerts.