Emergency alerts for smart phones to be tested Wednesday

Emergency alerts for smart phones to be tested Wednesday

That means everyone's smart phone will blare out an Amber Alert-like alarm at the same time.

The federal government has long had a system to issue alerts over television and radio.

The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2015 limits how WEA can be used.

Not all cellphones may receive Wednesday's alert, however.

If you're looking at another piece of glowing glass - like your television - during the test, you may just see the alert there, too.

IPAWS-NOAA Gateway: This is used to deliver alerts to weather radios.

Okay, So What is a Presidential Alert?

The warning system "provides the president with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency", FEMA said on its website.

It's called the "presidential alert", but the president doesn't actually write it.

"We only have to send the message one place", Warstler said.

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FEMA is also tasked with ensuring the president can alert the public under all conditions in cases of national emergencies, including natural disasters and terrorist threats.

The goal of these tests, Johnson told CBS News, is to rapidly notify the country of a national crisis.

The test will be at 2:18 p.m. Unlike EAS, the WEA system will be tested on a national stage for the first time ever later today, so all eyes are on the FCC and wireless carriers. "No action is needed", it'll read.

This would be the first time FEMA will test the cell phone alerts nationwide.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it'll sound like an Amber Alert or flood warning. You'll hear two tones, followed by a vibration.

On your phone it'll read "Presidential Alert" followed by a message reading: "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System". Others will not. No action is required.

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. They said a person on a call lasting 30 minutes may not get the alert as with phones with an active data connection. That's one of the things they are testing.

You can block the test message by putting your smart phone in Airplane Mode, or by turning your phone off.

Can I silence my phone or turn off the alert? You can also set your phone to vibrate.

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