On Wednesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission, will administer a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system.
The test will be only the second nationwide run-through of the system, but it will be the first time that the test will only be sent to people who have opted-in to get test alerts.
The WEA system is used by federal, state, and local agencies to send emergency alerts in various situations, including AMBER Alerts, catastrophic weather events, or nuclear emergencies. Alabama EMA Director Brian Hasting said while the system is most often used by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to send AMBER Alerts, there are more than 30 agencies across the state who have the proper certification and training to send alerts on the system.
Hasting said that FEMA is particularly interested in the system’s capability to alert people who live near nuclear power plants in case of an emergency. Alabama’s two nuclear power plants are located in Limestone County, at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, and Houston County, at the Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Plant. People who live within 10 miles of those facilities would be notified via the WEA if a nuclear emergency were to happen.
To get today’s WEA test, your smartphone must be opted-in to receive test alerts. Here’s how to opt in:
For iPhone users:
- Open the phone app
- Tap ‘keypad’
- Dial *5005*25371#
- Press the call button
- You will receive a message telling you your phone has been opted in
Android users can use any of the following options:
- Tap Apps → Emergency Alerts → Menu (three dots in the upper right-hand corner of the
- screen) → Settings → Alert types.
- • Tap Apps → Settings → Apps & Notifications → Advanced → Wireless Emergency Alerts.
- • Tap Apps → Settings → Search for “Emergency Alerts” or “Public Safety messages.”
- • Tap your text messaging app → Menu (three dots in the upper right-hand corner of the screen)
- → Settings → Advanced → Wireless Emergency Alerts → Menu → Settings.