Denver to test emergency alert system Wednesday

All cell phones in area will get alert

DENVER — If you get an emergency alert on your cell phone today between 11 and 11:30 a.m., don't worry. It's just a test. 

The city and county of Denver will send the test alert to all cell phones in the area Wednesday morning. 

"We're going to have a test of the wireless emergency alert system," said David Powell, emergency management planning coordinator for the city and county of Denver. "The wireless emergency alerts are messages sent to cell phones in a certain geographic area to warm people of threats and hazards." 

Any cell phone that is pinging off a tower within city or county limits will receive the alert, provided that the phone's emergency alert notifications are enabled. On iPhones, alerts can be enabled under the notifications section. On Android, this feature is under "wireless and networks."

Since the FCC started the wireless emergency alert system in 2012, about 33,000 alerts have been sent out to mobile devices. The National Weather Service uses the system to send weather alerts, and different state and local agencies use the system for amber alerts or other emergencies.

During the test in Denver, the system will sound an alarm on phones along with a message reading it's only a test. The alert may be delayed if you are on the phone or using certain apps at the time. The city said if you don't get the alert, they want to know.

"After the test, we ask people to go to our website and take the survey to let us know if they got the alert," Powell said. "We want to make sure the system is covering the whole city adequately."

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