The important reason why your phone is going to buzz and sound an alarm today
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Featured Image Credit: Kenstocker/CHANDAN KHANNA / Contributor
You don't need to be alarmed when your phone suddenly lights up and starts making noises today, but it is important that you understand what the alert is for.
Wireless phones, as well as TVs and radios, will all broadcast notifications at around the same time today (4 October), as part of a test conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Everyone in the US, Puerto Rico, and Guam who is within range of a cell tower and has access to a wireless phone will receive the message, which will be sent out in English or Spanish depending on the language set on the device.
On phones, the message will read: "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed."
On TVs and radios, audiences will be met with a message reading: "This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering the United States from 14:20 to 14:50 hours ET. This is only a test. No action is required by the public."
The messages make clear that the alerts form part of a test, which is being conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission and Puerto Rico Emergency Management Bureau.
It is designed to test the effectiveness of the US' Emergency Alert System, a national public warning system which is commonly used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information, such as weather warnings and AMBER alerts.
In a press release, FEMA explained: "The purpose of the test is to ensure that the systems continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level."
Nino Correa Filomeno, Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency Commissioner, added: "These test alerts are necessary to verify that the system is working properly so that, in a real case, citizens will know what to do."
Officials are aiming to shut down any conspiracy theories surrounding the test, with FEMA press secretary Jeremy Edwards telling The Guardian that the communication systems used to send alerts are 'critical tools' to warn civilians about threats to public safety.
The test is set to take place at 2:20pm ET, though FEMA has explained that if the today's test has to be delayed for any reason, a back-up test is scheduled to take place on 11 October.
The alert will be broadcast on cellphone towers for approximately 30 minutes, during which time phones will vibrate and sound a unique tone.