Test messages will be sent to all TVs, radios, and cell phones
UNITED STATES — FEMA, in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), hosting an upcoming nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 4, at approximately 2:20 p.m. ET and 11:20 a.m. PDT. According to a press release issued by FEMA in August, this test aims to evaluate and enhance the effectiveness of the alert systems for public safety during emergencies, particularly those of national significance.
The national test will consist of two critical components:
1. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA):
- This marks the third nationwide test of WEA, with a focus on all consumer cell phones.
- The test message will be displayed in either English or Spanish, depending on the language settings of the wireless handset.
- WEA test initiation will be through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) using a unique code sent to cell phones.
2. Emergency Alert System (EAS):
- This is the seventh nationwide EAS test, targeted at radios and televisions.
- The EAS test message will be disseminated as a Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) message via IPAWS-OPEN.
FEMA and the FCC are actively collaborating with EAS participants, wireless providers, emergency managers, and other stakeholders to ensure seamless coordination, reduce confusion, and maximize the public safety value of this nationwide test.
In the event of widespread severe weather or other significant events on the scheduled date, the backup testing date is Oct. 11.
Here’s what to expect during the nationwide WEA test:
- Starting at approximately 2:20 p.m. ET, cell towers will broadcast the test message for approximately 30 minutes.
- WEA-compatible wireless phones, which are powered on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless providers participate in WEA, should be capable of receiving the test message.
- For consumers, the message on their phones will read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
- Phones with the main menu set to Spanish will display: “ESTA ES UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia. No se necesita acción.”
- WEA alerts are generated and transmitted by authorized federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government agencies through IPAWS to participating wireless providers, ensuring accessibility for all, including individuals with disabilities, through unique tones and vibrations.
Important information about the EAS test:
- The EAS portion of the test is scheduled to last approximately one minute.
- It will involve radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers.
- The test message will be similar to the regular monthly EAS test messages and will state: “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering the United States from 14:20 to 14:50 hours ET. This is only a test. No action is required by the public.”