False alarm: Early-morning emergency alert was just a test; DeSantis demands ‘swift accountability’ for error
An early-morning emergency alert from the State of Florida was mistakenly sent to millions of Floridians, who were were jolted awake by the test at 4:45 a.m. Thursday.
The alert read: “TEST. This is a TEST of the Emergency Alert System. No action is required.”
The broadcast alerts, sent by the Florida Association of Broadcasters. are intended for televisions, not phones. The FAB has a schedule for test alerts for TV every month with February, April, June, August, October and December scheduled for 4:50 a.m., while afternoon tests at 1:50 p.m., again for TV only, are scheduled for January, March, May, July, September and November.
The Florida Department of Emergency management quickly apologized for the alert.
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The department tweeted “We know a 4:45 AM wake up call isn’t idea … @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.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis weighed in six hours later, ordering Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie to level “swift accountability” for the test in the “wee hours of the morning. This was a completely inappropriate use of this system.”
The reaction on social media was swift and brutal, with most people sharing a photo of the time they received the wake-up call and complaining in colorful language about the sleep interruption. Many people shared tips on how to turn off the alerts, but emergency officials have been discouraging that.
In fact, the National Weather Service in Miami issued a news release, saying that deactivating alerts could “prevent people from receiving critical, life-saving weather warnings from the National Weather Service. These weather warnings can often occur when people are sleeping.”
Still, a few chose to look at the bright side after the predawn test. The City of Boynton invited people to take in the sunrise at the beach: