Emergency alert systems being tested on cellphones, TVs and radios across nation Wednesday

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission will conduct...
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission will conduct a nationwide test of two alert systems Wednesday.(FEMA)
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 11:43 AM CDT
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(Gray News) - Federal agencies will broadcast a message to cellphones, televisions and radios across the U.S. Wednesday to test the nation’s emergency alert systems.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, is scheduled to conduct a nationwide test of two alert systems – the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system – starting at 2:20 p.m. ET Oct. 4.

The purpose of the two-part test “is to ensure that the systems continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level,” FEMA said in a news release in August.

For the EAS portion of the test, FEMA will send an emergency alert test message to televisions and radios lasting around one minute, saying: “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.”

The agency said it will be the seventh nationwide EAS test, and “will be similar to the regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar.”

For the WEA portion, cellphones in range of cell towers will receive a message reading: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

FEMA said the message will read in English or Spanish, depending on language settings on the phone, and to “help ensure that these alerts are accessible to the entire public, including people with disabilities, the alerts are accompanied by a unique tone and vibration.”

FEMA said cell towers will broadcast the test for around 30 minutes, but all wireless phones should receive the message only once.

The agency said this will be the third nationwide WEA test “but the second test to all cellular devices.”

In case the test is postponed because of an actual widespread emergency during the testing timeframe, FEMA said it will reschedule the test for Oct. 11.