Home Daily Infographics What is the Presidential Alert System? And Why is it Important?

What is the Presidential Alert System? And Why is it Important?


A Presidential Alert System or Wireless Emergency Alert System is used to warn the public about dangerous weather and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones.

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Who is sending the message?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, conducts a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts system on telephones, radio & TV.

When will we receive this message?

According to the official notification by FEMA, cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT. The test was originally set for Sept. 20, but was postponed until Oct. 3 due to “ongoing response efforts to Hurricane OKFlorence,” according to FEMA.

What will the emergency alerts contain?

The alert will be headed with, “Presidential Alert” and text that says, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

Why are we receiving this message?

According to FEMA: “The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones.”

How long will the message alert sound?

According to FEMA, during the 30-minute period the message will be broadcasted, your handset will receive the alert once and the notification will last approximately one minute.

Who will get the message and can you opt out?

All WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA will be receiving the test message.

Did Not Get The Alert? Here Could Be Why

Your phone isn’t WEA capable

Nearly all modern cell phones are compatible with the Wireless Emergency Alert system. But there are some outliers. For a complete list, visit your carrier website.

You were in Airplane mode

You need cell service to receive the message. If you were disconnected, either from having your phone in airplane mode or because of a provider issue, the message wouldn’t have made it though.

Your Software isn’t updated

Even with a WEA-capable phone, not having up-to-date software could lead to problems. If you have any concerns, officials recommend you keep your software updated at all times.

You’re not within a range of the cell tower

Does must be powered on and within the range of a participating carrier’s cell tower to get a WEA message. If you are stuck in an area with no access to cell service, the message cannot be pushed to your phone.