There is a Presidential Alert Test scheduled for Wednesday and people are curious. What is a Presidential Alert? Why would the president want to text me? Can I opt out? Do I need to do anything when I get the test? What happens if I don't get the message? Exactly what does that mean to you and me? These are all good questions since FEMA is making kind of a big deal out of this.

According to a recent FEMA press release, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert System (WEA) on Wednesday, October 3rd.

Here’s what you need to know. The test should, if everything goes as planned, hit Wichita Falls cell towers at about 1:18 Wednesday afternoon and the message itself should be sent to our phones at 1:20. The Presidential Alert will read,

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

You cannot opt out of this message delivery system.

Here’s why it’s a big deal to FEMA. It’s the first time they’ve tried to use the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) on a national scale. The test was originally scheduled for September 20th, 2018, but was postponed to October 3rd. The whole reason for the test is to assess the readiness of the cell phone system across the nation to deliver an emergency message to everyone at the same time and determine whether improvements are needed.

WEA messages are sent out by public safety officials to warn us about dangerous situations in times of critical emergencies. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all other WEA messages such as tornado warnings and AMBER Alerts.

In conjunction with the Wireless Emergency Alert message sent to your cell phone, radio and television stations will also be sent a special EAS test that you should hear on our stations. That content will say,

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System. This system was developed by broadcast and cable operators in voluntary cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and local authorities to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency, an official message would have followed the tone alert you heard at the start of this message. A similar Wireless Emergency Alert test message has been sent to all cell phones nationwide. Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not. No action is required.”

So, it’s a test. And we don’t have to worry if we pass or fail, that’s FEMA’s job. The president isn't actually texting us personally. If it were a real zombie attack or skull shaped asteroid on a collision course with Earth this is how FEMA would let us know. If you don't get the message, don't sweat it, that's an issue for FEMA and the phone company to sort out. This time around, we can just sit back and enjoy the show.