Economy

'Presidential Alert': FEMA to test emergency alert system next week

'Presidential Alert': FEMA to test emergency alert system next week

The Trump administration will send a test message to all USA cellphones on Thursday for a new alert system that aims to warn the public about national emergencies.

"Users may opt of receiving alerts in the imminent threat and AMBER categories but can not opt out of receiving Presidential alerts", FEMA said.

"The EAS (Emergency Alert System) is a national public warning system that provides the president with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency", FEMA said in a statement.

Conducted minutes before a similar alert is slated to be broadcast on radio and television, the inaugural coast-to-coast test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system will gauge the readiness of the infrastructure needed for notifying the public of dire warnings, including specifically those issued directly from the White House, FEMA said Thursday.

Wireless Emergency Alerts can be sent by the National Weather Service, local first responder agencies, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the President through a system devised by FEMA and the Federal Communications Commission.

The message will read: "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed", the message will say.

Cellphone users can not opt out of receiving alerts in accordance with the 2006 Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act passed by Congress. The president has sole responsibility for determining when the national-level alerts are used.

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The WEA system is already used to warn the public about missing children, unsafe weather and other vital information, FEMA said.

If the test is postponed for some reason, the back-up date is Wednesday, Oct. 3.

The administration announced in July that it would schedule the test alert for September.

The agency is required by law to conduct a nationwide test of its public alert systems no less than once every three years. It will interrupt programming for approximately one minute, FEMA said.

"During this time, WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA should be capable of receiving the test message", FEMA said.

Congress approved the alert system in 2015.


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