Nationwide test of emergency alert system will be sent to your phone

FEMA is scheduled test a system Thursday that allows the president to alert you to national emergencies. And no you can't opt out

FEMA is scheduled test a system Thursday that allows the president to alert you to national emergencies. And no you can't opt out

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is testing a new "presidential alert" system nationwide for the first time next week that will make it possible for Donald Trump to directly message almost everyone in the nation who has a cell phone. All mobile phones that are switched on and within the range of a cell tower should receive the message if their provider is participating in the test. The president is the only one who can determine if an alert needs to be sent out.

The goal of the new alert option, according to FEMA, is to add a new way for the government to reach people in major disasters and other emergencies - something the existing emergency alert system already does on other formats such as radio and television.

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.

You don't need to take any action for the test.

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 system is also used to warn the public about risky weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones.

Twitter users were quick to respond to the news, with one writing: 'Can I block him?'

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

Unlike the president's tweets, officials have assured that system will not be used for political messages.

"This is a great idea and an incredible use of technology to reach everybody if they're in harm's way", Karen North, the director of the Annenberg Digital Social Media program at the University of Southern California, told NBC News.

The test will last for about 30 minutes, beginning at 2:18pm ET on Thursday.

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