This afternoon, most phones in the U.S. will receive a text message from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as part of a testing system for “Presidential Alerts”.

At 2:18 pm EST, cell phones around the country will receive the alert with a message indicating it is a test for the National Wireless Emergency Alert System, which is run by FEMA. FEMA, in partnership with the FCC, will also be issuing the alert through TV and radio at 2:20 pm today.

The “Presidential Alert” is a new notification that is broader than statewide Amber Alerts or weather warnings. Today’s text message test is expected to be approximately one minute long and users cannot opt out.

These alerts are issued at the direction of the president and will be used strictly for national emergencies. In case you are wondering if there is a way around it, the only options are having your phone turned off, being far from an active cell tower, or having a cell phone carrier that does not participate with the system.

Most cell phone service providers are on board (voluntarily) and that is why the majority of US phone numbers will receive the notification.

While news of the alert has garnered criticism from some social media users about privacy, others feel that the new system will be an asset. For more information, visit FEMA’s website.

What are your thoughts? Were you aware this test would be happening today? Will you leave your phone on to receive the alert?