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Here's why Floridians may have been jolted from a sound sleep before the crack of dawn

Screenshot of emergency alert
Officials with the state Division of Emergency Management are apologizing for sending an emergency alert just before 5 a.m.

The Florida Department of Emergency Management apologized for an alert that was sent to Floridians' cell phones shortly before 5 a.m.

Updated 4/20/23 6:45 p.m.
Florida is looking for a new contractor to help conduct emergency alert tests.

Division of Emergency Management spokeswoman Alecia Collins said the state ended a contract with Everbridge after a test was mistakenly sent early Thursday morning to cell phones statewide.

“Everbridge sent the wrong technical specifications for this alert --- which ultimately pushed the alert over the Wireless Emergency Alert system,” Collins said in a statement.

Thursday morning's monthly test was supposed to go out on televisions at just before 5 a.m. — an hour earlier for people in the Panhandle, which is in the Central time zone. State officials say that time is normally used to minimize disruptions when the fewest people are watching TV.

However, Everbridge sent the wrong technical specifications — what it called "an unfortunate procedural error" in a statement — resulting in an unfortunate wake-up call for millions of Floridians.

Department of Emergency Management officials are imploring people not to disable cell-phone emergency alert notifications, just in case of an actual emergency.

“We will ensure they are used appropriately henceforth,” Collins wrote.

Original story published 4/20/23 11 a.m.
Luckily, for some of us who are early risers, the piercing sound that came from our cell phones early Thursday morning may not have been as jarring as it was for folks who were woken up from a sound sleep.

If you were one of millions of Floridians jolted awake by an emergency alert sent to your phone early Thursday morning, listen up.

Officials with the state Division of Emergency Management are apologizing for sending that notification just before 5 a.m.

In a tweet sent out Thursday morning, they explained that alerts are tested on a variety of platforms each month, and Thursday morning's was only supposed to be on TV.

However, it was apparently mistakenly sent to cell phones instead, interrupting sleep for quite a few people.

Monthly tests for broadcasters — required by the Federal Communications Commission — are initiated by the state alternating between 4:50 a.m. and 1:50 p.m.

But when Thursday morning's test was fired, it was delivered to cell phones instead.

The officials added that they're taking appropriate action to make sure it will not happen again, and "only true emergencies are sent as alerts in the middle of the night."

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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