Federal officials to test emergency communications Wednesday afternoon

October 3, 2018

Two nationwide tests will be conducted Wednesday on emergency communications.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, will conduct tests via cellphones, radio and TV.

The Wireless Emergency Alert and the Emergency Alert System will conduct the tests to assess the readiness to distribute emergency messages nationwide and determine if any improvements are needed.

At 1:18 p.m. CDT, FEMA will begin sending a Wireless Emergency Alert test message to wireless devices such as cellphones that are capable of receiving the signal. Most handsets will receive the alert within a few minutes, but others could take up to 30 minutes.

The test message will bear the headline “Presidential Alert.” The text will say, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” The alert will have a special tone and vibration that will repeat twice. The test message had been scheduled for September but was pushed back.

Three categories of alerts are sent through the alert system: imminent threat alerts about emergencies, including extreme weather; Amber Alerts; and presidential alerts about emergencies of national consequence. Users may opt out of imminent threat and Amber Alerts but cannot opt out of receiving presidential alerts.

The Emergency Alert System test will start at 1:20 p.m. CDT and will be distributed through radio and TV, including cable and satellite systems. The test will be similar to the monthly test messages that interrupt programming for approximately 1 minute.

More information is available at www.fema.gov/emergency-alert-test.

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