The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is testing its Presidential Alert system for the first time ever Wednesday afternoon and expects to send texts to about 225 million smartphones.
“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed,” reads the text that will go out at 2:18 p.m. EST Wednesday, reported CNN.
Some people who heard about the Presidential Alert system assumed President Donald Trump was crafting the texts, but that could not be further from the truth, an unnamed senior FEMA official told CNN Tuesday.
The system for sending the messages has many precautions and multiple passwords. These precautions hopefully will prevent an incident like what happened in Hawaii in January, when people received a false message about a ballistic missile threat that sent people into panic.
The system is designed to warn citizens about “a coordinated attack on our major cities across the country” or “some other type of public peril that is ongoing in the country at the time,” the official said according to CNN.
Unlike amber and severe weather alerts, phone users cannot choose not to receive the Presidential Alert messages, CNN reported.
FEMA estimates that roughly 75 percent of U.S. adults will get the text Wednesday based on local testing results. FEMA will also send out a “slightly longer test message” over television and radio at approximately 2:20 p.m. EST.
The system must be tested once every three years because the law requires it, the FEMA official told CNN.
FEMA did not explain why it wanted the official to remain unnamed, reported CNN.
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