Your Phone Will Sound a Loud Alarm on October 4th

Get ready for a little chaos Wednesday afternoon, because a test of the national Wireless Emergency Alerts will happen between 2:20 p.m. and 2:50 p.m. EDT. The Emergency Broadcast System and Wireless Emergency Alerts are the same systems that are used for weather alerts and Amber Alerts. The alerts tend to use a loud alarm sound rather than using a notification ding or your normal ringtone. The cell tower will keep trying to send the message for 30 minutes, although each phone will only receive it once. On or about 2:50 p.m., if all goes well, the test will be over. Unfortunately, you can’t opt out of this alert. If your wireless provider participates in the Wireless Emergency Alerts network — which they pretty much all do — they aren’t permitted to allow you to opt out of national alerts. The alert will reach phone-like devices — like Apple Watches — if they are turned on, not in airplane mode, within reach of a cell tower, and capable of receiving Wireless Emergency Alerts. If you will be in a situation where the alert will be unusually disruptive, just make sure your phone is turned off during the alarm time.