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The Trump administration will send a test message to all United States cellphones on Thursday for a new alert system that aims to warn the public about national emergencies.

On September 20, FEMA will test its WEA system by sending out a text with the header "Presidential Alert" and the message, "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System".

This will be the first time WEA has ever been tested and will be followed by a test of the national Emergency Alert System which has only been tested three times before. "No action is needed".

Users whose phones are on will twice hear a tone and vibration and then see an English-only (for now) message: "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System".

Former President Barack Obama signed a law in 2016 requiring FEMA to create a system allowing the president to send cellphone alerts regarding public safety emergencies.

In a real situation, the system would be used to warn the public about unsafe weather, missing children, or another critical situation that may require you to evacuate or remain in place.

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"Users may opt of receiving alerts in the imminent threat and AMBER categories but can not opt out of receiving Presidential alerts", FEMA said.

The test is meant to ensure public safety officials have the methods and systems that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public in times of an emergency or disaster. The president has sole responsibility for determining when the national-level alerts are used. If for some reason there's interference with Thursday's test, a backup is scheduled for October 3.

After the alert, The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management wants Alaskans to weigh in on how they thought the test went, by completing a survey that will be found on the state's website.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its role in planning the test alert.

The test will last for about 30 minutes, beginning at 2:18pm ET on Thursday.

"This is a great idea and an awesome use of technology to reach everybody if they're in harm's way", Karen North, the director of the Annenberg Digital Social Media program at the University of Southern California, told NBC News.


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