Emergency Presidential Alert: 5 Things to Know
At 2:18 PM Eastern on October 3rd your phone is going to vibrate, make a special alert noise and show you a test emergency presidential alert. There’s nothing you can do to stop this, short of turning off your phone during this period, and even then it may show up when you reboot it if it’s within the 30 minute window.
Also known by some users on social media as a Trump Emergency Alert, this is similar to an Amber Alert. Unlike the weather and Amber alerts on your iPhone or Android phone, you cannot turn off Presidential Emergency Alerts.
This is what you need to know about the Emergency Presidential Alert test that is coming to your phone soon or that just arrived sending you here looking for how to turn off presidential emergency alerts.
What is the Emergency Presidential Alert
There are three types of emergency alerts that you can get from the Wireless Emergency Alerts system; Amber Alerts, Weather Alerts and a Presidential Emergency Alert.
You’ve likely received the first two over the last several years as an on screen message or an audible alert. This is the first test of the Presidential Emergency Alert in some time and it’s the first one under President Trump.
When is the Presidential Emergency Alert Test?
The President’s Emergency Alert test is at 2:18 PM Eastern, 11:18 AM Pacific. This test alert should arrive on your phone by 2:20 PM Eastern, but it could take up to 30 minutes in some cases. Carriers will send the alert out for a 30 minute period, but it should not arrive on your phone more than once.
Will The Emergency Alert Make Noise if my Phone is On Silent?
If you don’t want interrupted by this noisy intrusion into your day, you can put your phone on silent. With this mode on you will still see an on screen alert, like the one at the top of this page, but you won’t hear any interruption into your day.
The phone may still vibrate when this happens. It isn’t clear what will happen if your phone is in Do Not Disturb mode during the Presidential Emergency Alert.
Can I Turn Off Presidential Emergency Alerts?
While you can block some of the Wireless Emergency Alerts, like Amber alerts or weather alerts, you cannot block emergency alerts issued by the president. This is called a presidential alert, but in this case it will not come straight from Donald Trump.
CBS is doing a report on the new FEMA Presidential cell phone alert system thing and the reporter asked this official if Trump would only be able to send out emergency messages and not just whatever he wanted and this dude goes "the protocols would steer him away from that."
— Becky With Alright Hair I Guess (@rh_thompson) October 2, 2018
Some people aren’t sold on the idea, and are worried that President Trump could use this tool to message people outside of an emergency. At this point there is nothing you can do short of turning your phone off for 30 minutes on October 3rd at 2:18 PM to skip this alert.
Can I Skip the Emergency Alert Test?
While you cannot turn off Presidential Emergency Alerts, you can skip the test. At least in theory. According to FEMA,
“Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT. During this time, WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA should be capable of receiving the test message.”
This suggests that if you turn off your phone completely from 2:15 until about 2:50 PM Eastern you can skip the test. This is not a way to skip real alerts, since you’ll get the message before you have time to turn your phone off and skip it.