If you get a phone that is not WEA compatible or if your wireless provider doesn't participate in the WEA system, you can avoid getting Presidential Alerts. As you saw, "no action is needed" on your part for this test.
The system was put in place during President Barack Obama's tenure to alert people of a dire threat, but it didn't get its first test until TODAY.
Axios reported that Congress requires the alert system be tested every three years.
It could be used for less serious dispatches like telling Americans to vote in the upcoming midterms, but since the system is in FEMA's hands, we can presume it will only be used to warn us of impending disaster. Your phone will vibrate and emit a loud abrasive tone that's likely to freak you out if you're not anticipating it.
The test was originally scheduled for September 30th, but was delayed due to Hurricane Florence. Unlike the presidential message, these can be switched off.
Here's the kicker - the subject of the alert will read: "Presidential Alert". FEMA last tested the EAS in 2016 and 2017, and the first wireless emergency alerts were sent in 2012.
And although it wasn't Trump himself sending this alert from his mobile device (alerts will be sent from a FEMA official), a lot of Americans on Twitter treated the pilgrim message as if it were straight from the president. Whether it's to avoid giving Trump another megaphone or because, as one lawsuit claims, it's government over-reach in a post-Snowden world, there was plenty of skepticism over the alert.
Only the President can authorize use of the system and determines when it is appropriate to use, FEMA would then activate the alert.
So get used to that!
Can I silence my phone or turn off the alert?
"Oh my. A "Presidential Alert" emergency".
For more information, you can check out this FEMA document.
The intent of the alert was to test the ability to warn Americans about a disaster, such as severe weather, or an event of national outcome. Additionally, if a user is on a call, or with an active data session open on their phone, they might not have received the message.
What about the other screens in my life?These types of alerts would be sent in the event of major national emergency, such as a mass terrorism event.
The test message was sent out at 11:18 a.m. PT/2:18 p.m. ET on Wednesday, though FEMA said it might take a few minutes for the test to make it to all phones.
GeekWire's Kurt Schlosser, right, and John Cook talk GeekWire Summit attendees through the arrival of a national test alert on their phones Wednesday.
However, EAS will be on a much bigger scale as the message will be sent to more than 200 million U.S. cellphones. "No action is required".
But the move has prompted a lawsuit in NY, which says that presidential alerts are a "violation of Americans' First and Fourth Amendment rights to be free from Government-compelled listening, as well as warrantless, non-consensual trespass into and seizure of their cellular devices". It hasn't said yet whether the test went well.