On October 3rd, a majority of Americans will receive a text message with the header “Presidential Alert.” So the President of the U.S. wants to text you.  Well, it is really a general text to test out FEMA’s messaging system, but still it is unique.

About the President’s Text

The message is a test of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) messaging system designed to warn people about disasters and allow the president to quickly communicate with the American people in the event of emergencies. The message itself will read

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System.”

It is basically a mobile version of the same types of tests that are commonplace on TV and radio. It is not the first time that mobile networks have been used for similar messages. For example, Amber Alerts, which warn the public about a missing child, have been sent to cell phones for some time.

FEMA’s Plan

This is the first time that FEMA has tested its mobile system on the presidential level. The organization’s website admits that it has some issues that it hopes this test will resolve before it is needed in a real emergency. Unlike other emergency alerts, there is no way to opt out of the presidential alerts. But the system is designed to be used sparingly, so it is unlikely we’ll see them too often.

One thing worth noting is the effort that FEMA has made to prepare the public for this test. In addition to the organization’s press release, the message itself will contain the words “THIS IS A TEST.”  They are doing this to avoid a repeat of the debacle surrounding Hawaii’s system test, which sent out a false alarm regarding an inbound missile. Not a good plan on that message. This particular test won’t make mention of any specific emergency. Many people probably are not familiar with the presidential alert system, so the precautions are warranted.

If your phone is on and your wireless provider is part of the wireless emergency alert system (of which more than 100 carriers are) you should see the message appear on your phone at around 2:18 p.m. ET on October 3, 2018. The text was supposed to go out on September 20th, but FEMA postponed it due to weather emergencies.

Check your phone

It should be interesting to see how people will react to a text from the President of the United States.  Make sure you check your phone around 2 ET so you don’t miss it.


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