Wednesday afternoon, at exactly 2:18 p.m. ET, you can expect to get a text headlined “Presidential Alert” on your cellphone.
But it’s not exactly from President Trump. Rather, its a test of a new nationwide warning system that a president could use in case of an armed attack by another country, a cyberattack or a widespread natural disaster.
During the Cold War, it was pretty common to see and hear tests of the Emergency Broadcasting System.
Things are a little more sophisticated now, but basically the same minute-long, Emergency Alert System test is conducted every month or so on broadcast, cable, and satellite TV and radio. There’ll be one of those Wednesday afternoon too.
But now there will also be an alert on your cellphone.
Many cellphone users receive alerts now — Amber Alerts for missing children, and flash flood or tornado warnings. But Wednesday is the first time for a national, presidential alert issued by FEMA.
There will be an audible tone and then a text that states: “Presidential Alert” followed by “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”