Presidential Alerts, what will they be used for?

It is not clearly outlined

Dave Cohen, WWL First News early edition
October 03, 2018 - 11:09 am

Today's Presidential Alert going to all smart phones got me thinking.  I wondered what this system would be used for.

FEMA recently responded to a question on social media about this by saying, "Presidential Alerts are not to be used for general communication, and will only be used in cases of extreme national emergencies that affect public safety."

On its website, FEMA says that Wireless Emergency Alerts are to be used to provide "text-like alerts to the public, warning of imminent threats to life and property."

It also says the system is "to ensure the President can communicate with the American public under all conditions."

In a frequently asked questions section FEMA adds, "Don’t worry, the President isn’t going to flood you with running commentary on your local events.  Just like with sending alerts to your radio and tv, it’s our insurance that the President can always communicate with the public."

Earlier FEMA releases talked about the use of national alerts.

"The national Emergency Alert System is an alert and warning system that can be activated by the president, if needed, to provide information to the American public during emergencies.... communicating critical information to the public in the event of a real national emergency."

So what would constitute a national emergency that would require the president to alert every American on their phone?

That is not clear from anything I could find.

So, I asked our listeners what they thought.   

Here are some of the responses people texted to 870870 during the Early Edition of WWL First News:

  • Who knows what emergencies it could be used for that is why they are called emergencies, because they are emergent
  • It could be used to warn us of a meteor strike impending
  • you're about to die...please don't panic...go ahead and enjoy the moment
  • Now when it's time to go vote the president can text you go vote
  • It's been along time since a meteor has struck the earth. Could be something like that. Really enjoy your show.
  • A nuclear war would not kill every body. A 20 minute warning could say countless lives
  • Huge asteroid
  • Damn, you really got me thinking about this for some reason
  • Whatever happens the cockroaches ain't going nowhere
  • When the Falcons win the Super Bowl.
  • Good morning. I am a big President Trump supporter, big I think it's hilarious to give Donald Trump the ability to text everyone in the country.
  • The rapture
  • President Trump's impeachment?
  • To alert the nation that Brett Kavanaugh have been confirmed
  • It's all about fear. By its all a show. Using the prophecies in the new testament to scare us to comform. IT'S ALL A SHOW.
  • Clever way to hack all cell phone
  • Let's hope a real emergency doesn't happen at the same time the mobile test message is sent!
  • I hope to be off the highway when thousands of people reach for there cell phones at 1:18pm!!!!

Some of that was useful, some of it... not so much.

I guess if nuclear missiles are heading for multiple locations across the country, then it would make sense to tell every single American with a phone to seek a nuclear shelter. I honestly, however, don't know where the nearest shelters are located.  

David Blake suggested that if another 9/11 type of terror attack were unfolding with a series of events in multiple locations and concerns more could be coming, that might be a time to use a national alert.

An approaching meteor or asteroid does make sense too. 

By the way there are other systems that are used for local and regional emergencies.

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