iPhones and Androids in the United States will receive an emergency alert Wednesday, but it’s not anything to worry about. It will come from a couple of U.S. government agencies testing the Wireless Emergency Alerts system.
This isn’t the first time the system has been tested — the feds are required to check that the system works every few years.
In short, just ignore it. Also ignore the crazy conspiracy theories surrounding the test.
This is a test. This is only a test.
Virtually everyone carries a cellphone these days, so alerts like this serve as an effective way for the government to send out warnings during national or regional emergencies. And the middle of a crisis isn’t the right time to find out the system doesn’t work. Hence a test is in order. Radio and TV are also widely used (of course), so they also will be broadcasting a test message.
The Wireless Emergency Alerts system message will come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission. It will go out at approximately 11:20 a.m. Pacific on Wednesday, October 4.
“WEA-compatible wireless 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,” said the agencies in a statement earlier this year.
According to FEMA and the FCC, the message is a simple one: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” For phones set to Spanish, it will say, “ESTA ES UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia. No se necesita acción.”
To call attention to the message, “the alerts are accompanied by a unique tone and vibration,” according to the agencies. This will go off even with the iPhone on Silent mode or Do Not Disturb.
While this upcoming test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts system is nationwide, authorized federal, state, local, tribal and territorial government agencies can send out real messages that are limited in area.
If all this sounds familiar, the first WEA test was back in 2018.
Ignore the crazies
The upcoming test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts system has brought out the lunatic fringe spreading bizarre conspiracy theories.
Perhaps the funniest warns that the broadcast will “activate the Marburg virus in people who have been vaccinated. And sadly turn some of them into zombies.”
Wednesday’s emergency alert will go out on radio and TV, too
At the same time, many TVs and radios will take part in their own test of the Emergency Alert System. Participants will include radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers.
That test also will happen at about 11:20 a.m. Pacific on October 4.