clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Here's why you didn't receive the presidential emergency alert message

The first test of the national wireless emergency system by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is shown on a cellular phone in Detroit, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. About 225 million electronic devices across the United States received alerts from FEMA W
The first test of the national wireless emergency system by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is shown on a cellular phone in Detroit, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. About 225 million electronic devices across the United States received alerts from FEMA Wednesday afternoon.
Paul Sancya, AP

SALT LAKE CITY — Not everyone heard or received the emergency alert message from FEMA Wednesday.

But the government isn’t totally sure why.

On Wednesday, FEMA sent out a test presidential emergency alert message, which is meant to work as an emergency notification, according to CNN.

It sparked a number of reactions. Not everyone — including me — received the notification Wednesday. So what gives?

FEMA has an answer. In a statement, the agency said cellphones could only receive the message if they were turned on and within range of a cell tower, according to USA Today.

"Additionally, if a user is on a call, or with an active data session open on their phone, they might not have received the message," FEMA said.

However, according to Wired, there’s still confusion about why people didn’t receive the presidential alert. After speaking with dozens of people, Wired reported that those who didn’t receive the alert didn’t have much or anything in common.

FEMA told Quartz they were still trying to figure out why people didn’t receive the text message. They’re also unsure why some people received it before others did.

FEMA has asked Americans to send feedback to the email FEMA-National-Test@fema.dhs.gov. Those who didn’t receive the message should send information on their device, wireless provider, whether they were using their phone, and whether people nearby received the alert.

This is the first successful test of the alert, though. Former President George W. Bush added the emergency alerts for radio and TV, but a text component was added by the Barack Obama administration, USA Today reported.