Why Your Phone Might Suddenly Jolt You on Wednesday

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Angry man looking at his cellphone.
TetianaKtv / Shutterstock.com

If you aren’t careful, your cellphone may give you a nasty jolt on Wednesday afternoon.

Around 2:20 p.m. ET this Wednesday — Oct. 4 — the federal government will conduct a nationwide alert test of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System.

The test will come with a “unique tone and vibration” and a message that reads “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed,” according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, better known as FEMA.

The tests will go out to all phones that are:

  • Compatible with wireless emergency alerts (WEA)
  • Switched on
  • Within range of an active cell tower
  • Associated with a wireless provider that participates in WEA

According to FEMA:

“The purpose of the Oct. 4 test is to ensure that the systems continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level. In case the Oct. 4 test is postponed due to widespread severe weather or other significant events, the back-up testing date is Oct. 11.”

Folks who have received AMBER alerts on their phones know how disruptive this type of message can be. Although you probably cannot prevent the message from hitting your phone, being aware of it at least prepares you for the loud disruption.

And if you really can’t stomach the thought of getting a disruptive tone on your phone, you can always shut it down for a while on Wednesday.

Since the test is scheduled for approximately 2:20 ET, it means other parts of the country will receive the message at different local times, depending on their time zone. Here is the breakdown of times:

  • 2:20 p.m. ET
  • 1:20 p.m. CT
  • 12:20 p.m. MT
  • 11:20 a.m. PT
  • 10:20 a.m AKT
  • 8:20 a.m HT

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