Nationwide test of EAS scheduled today

October 3, 2018

Today at 1:18 pm CST the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be conducting a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system, followed by a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS).

The WEA text message will come to all WEA-enabled mobile devices at approximately 1:18 pm. Most are already familiar with WEA messages such as AMBER Alerts and National Weather Service alerts. Phones across America will receive a text message that will vibrate and ring with a special sound when the message arrives.

The test will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether technological improvements are needed.

The EAS message will be sent out to television, radio and satellite broadcast partners at approximately 1:20 pm. If one of these devices are on at the time of the test, citizens will see and hear a message similar to the monthly tests of the system. Local partners at KUHF TV and with KTRH Radio will be assisting in the broadcast of this message.

Both of these tests will start with “THIS IS A TEST,” and no action is required by the public.

This test has been done on a smaller scale in various parts of the country just as an EAS or WEA test. This is the first time both systems will be tested at the same time.

In a press release, officials said, “This test is an important element in keeping our emergency alert systems relevant and up to date with what public safety needs and public expectations.”

This is the fourth EAS nationwide test and the first national WEA test. Previous EAS national tests were conducted in September 2011, 2016 and 2017 in collaboration with the FCC, broadcasters, and emergency management officials in recognition of FEMA’s National Preparedness Month.

The EAS message will include a reference to the WEA test: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System. This system was developed by broadcast and cable operators in voluntary cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and local authorities to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency an official message would have followed the tone alert you heard at the start of this message. A similar wireless emergency alert test message has been sent to all cell phones nationwide. Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not. No action is required.”

The WEA test message will read “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. It allows customers whose wireless provider participates in WEA and who own a WEA compatible wireless phone to receive geo-targeted alerts of imminent threats to safety in their area through unique tones and vibration. The national WEA test will use the same special tone and vibration.

The WEA test will be sent through IPAWS, as part of the nation’s modern alert and warning infrastructure that automatically authenticates alerts. Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, cell phones that are switched on and within range of an active cell tower should be capable of receiving the test message. Cell phones should receive the message once.

The test is intended to ensure public safety officials have the methods and systems that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public in times of an emergency or disaster. Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems is also a way to assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure required for the distribution of a national message and determine whether technological improvements are needed.

Receiving preparedness tips and timely information about weather conditions or other emergency events can make all the difference in knowing when to take action to be safe. FEMA and their partners are working to ensure alerts and warnings are received quickly through several different technologies, no matter whether an individual is at home, at school, at work, or out in the community. The FEMA App, which can be downloaded on both Android and Apple devices, is one way to ensure receiving both preparedness tips and weather alerts of your choice. Download the FEMA App today at https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app.

More information on the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System and Wireless Emergency Alerts is available at www.ready.gov/alerts.

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