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Florida Emergency Alert: What you need to know about the system that woke you up this morning

ORLANDO, Fla. — Floridians got a rude awakening Thursday morning by a screeching sound emanating from their phones.

According to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the emergency alert test was accidentally sent to mobile phones at 4:45 a.m. Thursday. Officials said it was only supposed to air on TV and not to disturb anyone who was sleeping.

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Here’s what you need to know about the Emergency Alert System:

You can sign up for AlertFlorida notifications by clicking here. Law enforcement is urging Floridians not to turn off alerts, as they are the fastest way to receive information on tornado warnings, evacuation alerts, or hazardous events.

Read: Officials apologize after ‘Emergency Alert’ test sent in ‘error’ to cell phones at 4:45 a.m.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, the Emergency Alert System is a national public warning system commonly used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information, such as weather and AMBER alerts, to affected communities over television and radio.

In Florida, broadcasters test the system once a month. According to a calendar posted by the Florida Association of Broadcasters, those tests are scheduled monthly at either 1:50 p.m. or 4:50 a.m.

Read: Florida to launch ‘Purple Alert’ program to help find missing adults with disabilities

The FCC says Emergency Alert System participants – radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers – deliver state and local alerts on a voluntary basis, but they are required to deliver Presidential alerts, which enable the President to address the public during a national emergency.

The majority of Emergency Alert System alerts originate from the National Weather Service in response to severe weather events, but an increasing number of alerts are being sent by state, local, territorial, and tribal authorities.

Read: Blue Alert: What does it mean in Florida?

FEMA is responsible for any national-level activation and tests of the Emergency Alert System.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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