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Presidential Alert – What Is It? How Do I Stop Them? Why Did I Get It?

At 1:18 pm CST I received a PRESIDENTIAL ALERT on my iPhone. It was similar to that of an Amber Alert – but presidential? If you are wondering what this push notification was all about, let’s break if down.

Testing the Presidential Alert

Today, Wednesday – October 3, 2018 beginning at 2:18 pm Eastern time cellphones everywhere were interrupted with an urgent notification. The phone notifications read “Presidential Alert” in bold. Followed by “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.

presidential alert screen shot iphone 1:18pm

No action needed, thank God – but what is this presidential alert and why is the president messaging me?

225 Million Receive Test Alerts

Okay, so a few things. No – Donald Trump isn’t texting me or you. If you are wondering why you got a notification – everyone did. The guesstimate is that 3 out of 4 phones will receive the notification.

If your cell phone is off or not within service range, chances are you did not see the alert. This particular Presidential Alert test was sent out to 225 million people over a 30-minute period as a test. Keep reading and we will show you how to turn off government alerts on your iPhone.

Wireless Emergency Alerts System

This federal exercise is a test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts System.  This is the first time that the Wireless Emergency Alerts System has tested an presidential alert.

You maybe familiar with WEA or Wireless Emergency Alerts . These are the alerts that come to your phone when there is extreme weather or an Amber alert in your area.

What is the Presidential Alert?

The “presidential alert” notification is not issued by the President directly. But in general – the president or his people authorize FEMA to send an alert on the White House’s behalf.

Let’s hope that this notification from the White House will be used with caution and integrity, more so then what comes out on Twitter!

How to Turn Off Government Alerts on Your iPhone

The real reason you are here. You want to know how to turn off government alerts on your iPhone. It’s super simple, let me show you how but I got some BAD NEWS.

Bad news, first?

No Opting Out of Presidential Alerts

According to FEMA – you cannot opt out of presidential alerts because it’s against the law. I don’t like this law. In October 2023, see our Emergency Alert System memes.

fema - no opting out of presidential alerts

How to Opt Out of Amber Alerts and Emergency Alerts

Here is how to get there -> SETTINGS > NOTIFICATIONS > (scroll ALL the way down) GOVERNMENT ALERTS

Toggle the on / off switches to determine whether you want these to notify you or not.

Government Alerts

The current government alerts are AMBER Alerts and Emergency Alerts.

government alerts - amber alert - emergency alerts - presidential alerts

Do know that if you turn off emergency alerts, you will not receive weather related alerts either. But unfortunately “by law” you cannot opt-out of the presidential alerts.

government alerts off switch iphone

Testing the System

The federal government is required by law to test the system every three years. The first emergency alerts were sent out in 2012.

Challenges with the System

You may remember earlier this year, Hawaiian residents received a warning on their cellphones alerting them of an inbound ballistic missile attack.  This was sent by a troubled worker who thought an attack was happening.

Hawaii residents received a notification on their phones stating:


How long did it take to correct?  38 minutes. That’s right, 38 minutes! I cannot even imagine what I would do.

Communicating Thru Technology

As technology evolves, I am sure we will continue to see alerts like this. I don’t think this is a bad thing, but again – it needs to be used for the right purpose. Amber alerts have reunited many kids with their families.

But then I think about that Hawaii situation. What if it was real? Do I really want to know if a ballistic missile is on it’s way and there’s nothing I can really do about it?  But yes, please do let me know if I am in the path of a tornado.


Okay, I am seeing questions come in about these alerts. Here are a few questions and the answers that I can find:

What if you did not receive the presidential test alert?

Well, maybe you are lucky! Just kidding, was your phone off? Did you have your phone on do not disturb? Did you have a cell connection?

How are the presidential alerts okay? 

No idea. So I don’t think it’s a BAD idea, but why call it presidential alerts? Someone tweeted that its because of the president’s ego. Maybe, or maybe it’s suppose to emphasize seriousness.

Regardless, I do think we should be able to opt out. The whole against the law thing, is a whee too much in my opinion.

Presidential Alert Template – Create Your Own Presidential Alert!

Use this template and create your own Presidential Alert. Just right click and save. Edit in Picmonkey.

presidential alert template

What are Your Thoughts on the Presidential Alert System? 

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