A nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alert System should send a text message to everyone’s cellphone at 11:18 a.m. Pacific Time on Wednesday.
Two minutes later, the regular Emergency Alert System will also broadcast a message via radio and television.
A Wireless Emergency Alert can be used to warn citizens of danger via text message. The system has been put in place since 2012, but according to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, a nationwide test has never been tried.
“A nationwide WEA message would only be used in the most extreme emergency situation,” the OEM wrote in a news release.
The text being sent out Wednesday will have the heading “Presidential alert” and state “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
There is no way to opt out.
Any cellphone from a participating carrier that is turned on between 11:18-11:48 a.m. should receive the test message from FEMA. The EAS will be broadcast for one minute via television, cable and radio stations at 11:20 a.m.
Both systems have been used in the past for regional or local warnings, such as an AMBER alert for missing children. In January, Hawaii accidentally used the system to send a message stating (falsely) that a nuclear missile was inbound.
The test was originally scheduled for September, but was postponed to Wednesday due to Hurricane Florence.