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Heads-up: FEMA is testing emergency alerts on phones today

The alert you might receive at 11:20 a.m. PT / 2:20 pm ET is just a test.

Phone screen showing test message of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System.
You'll only get the alert if you've opted in to receive test messages.

If you get an emergency alert on Wednesday, don't panic. It's part of test of the nation's public alert and warning systems. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission are testing the Emergency Alert System, which sends messages via radio and television, and the Wireless Emergency Alerts System, which delivers alerts to mobile phones. The test will begin at 11:20 a.m. PT/ 2:20 pm ET on Aug. 11. 

You'll only get the message on your phone if you've opted in to receive test messages. The message will appear as a pop-up notification -- in either English or Spanish depending on your device settings -- and will read: "This is a test of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed."'

The alert also includes a "special tone" and a vibration that will be repeated twice, according to FEMA.  

FEMA added that, in a real emergency, "consumers will automatically receive real emergency alerts on compatible phones," even if they don't get the test message. If you want to opt in or out of test messages, FEMA has instructions on its website

The agency sent a tweet Wednesday reminding people about the test. 

In an FAQ about the alert systems test, FEMA said it conducted the first nationwide WEA test in 2018 by sending a message to "every active WEA compatible wireless device in the country," using the Presidential Alert capability that's part of the system. Since then, several upgrades have been made to the WEA system, including the ability to send test alerts to people who opt in. FEMA said this will let it run nationwide tests "without disturbing the public."