TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — UPDATE: 10:50 a.m. Florida's Governor, Ron DeSantis, is addressing the emergency alert test sent to Florida phones in error early Thursday morning. In a tweet, the governor said, "I’ve ordered FL Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie to bring swift accountability for the test of the emergency alert system in the wee hours of the morning. This was a completely inappropriate use of this system."
I’ve ordered FL Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie to bring swift accountability for the test of the emergency alert system in the wee hours of the morning. This was a completely inappropriate use of this system.— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 20, 2023
In addition, Republican State Senator Blaise Ingoglia said he would do a “Stop Wake Act” amendment to prevent something like this from happening again. Ingoglia said he would attach it to a bill already running through session. He said he didn’t know which yet but it could all happen this year.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management said the “test” emergency alert sent to smartphones early Thursday morning was sent in error. It was only supposed to be on television.
Many Floridians were startled awake by an emergency alert tone blaring from their smartphones at 4:45 a.m., Thursday. The alert said, “this is a test of the Emergency Alert System. No action is required.”
Hours later, the Florida Division of Emergency Management issued two tweets in response to what happened. They apologized for the early morning text. They wrote, “each month, we test emergency alerts on a variety of platforms. This alert was supposed to be on TV and not disturb anyone already sleeping.
We know a 4:45 AM wake up call isn't ideal 😅@FLSERT wants to apologize for the early morning text. Each month, we test #emergencyalerts on a variety of platforms. This alert was supposed to be on TV, and not disturb anyone already sleeping.— FL Division of Emergency Management (@FLSERT) April 20, 2023
This does align with a schedule on the Florida Association of Broadcaster's website. Alerts are sent every month, alternating between 4:50 a.m. and 1:50 p.m. May's alert will be at 1:50 p.m., but June's alert will be at 4:50 a.m. again.
In their second tweet FL Division of Emergency Management wrote, “we are taking appropriate action to ensure this will never happen again and that only true emergencies are sent as alerts in the middle of the night.”
According to the Federal Communications Commission, “the Emergency Alert System (EAS) 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. EAS participants – radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers – deliver local alerts on a voluntary basis, but they are required to provide the capability for the President to address the public during a national emergency.”