The Federal Emergency Management Agency will conduct a test of the national alert system that allows “presidential alerts” to hit the majority of cellphones. USA TODAY
No need to panic. You aren’t the only one who just received an alert from the president of the United States.
On Wednesday at 2:18 p.m. ET, smartphones in the U.S. were buzzing with a test of a “presidential alert,” managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to warn residents about national emergencies.
The system was put in place due to a law passed during the tenure of former President Barack Obama but didn’t get its first test until Wednesday, under the Trump administration.
“The test will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed,” read a statement from FEMA ahead of the alert test.
The alert works similarly to a weather emergency or Amber alert, where a user will see a notification pop up on their smartphone, as well as a loud tone with vibration. The key difference is users don’t have the option to disable presidential alerts.
During the test broadcast of the alert, compatible cell phones hosted by wireless providers participating in the program and within range of an active cell tower received the alert.
Authorities originally planned to push the alert September 20, but postponed it due to response efforts after Hurricane Florence.
Initial reaction to the message on Twitter has been mixed, with many users voicing their thoughts (and jokes) using the hashtag #PresidentialAlert.