Contributing Writer
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be conducting an Emergency Alert System test, in conjunction with the Federal Communications Commissions on Wednesday, October 4. The test will take place across the entire United States.
On October 4, the test is scheduled from about 2:20 p.m. eastern time. The test will be broken down into two portions, testing the Emergency Alert System capabilities, as well as the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) capabilities. That means that radios, televisions and both land lines and wireless phones will receive the alerts.
“FEMA and the FCC are coordinating with Emergency Alert System participants, wireless providers, emergency managers and other stakeholders in preparation for this national test to minimize confusion and to maximize the public safety value of the test,” according to FEMA officials. “The purpose of the October 4 test is to ensure that the systems continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level. In case the October 4 test is postponed due to widespread severe weather or other significant events, the back-up testing date is October 11.”
THE WEA part of the test will utilize FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, a centralized internet-based system. That allows FEMA to enable authorities to send authenticated emergency messages through multiple communications networks to the public. The WEA test will be administered by sending a code to cell phones. The alerts will be accompanied by a unique tone and vibration. “The Integrated Public Alert & Warning System is FEMA’s national system for local alerting that provides authenticated emergency and life-saving information to the public through mobile phones using Wireless Emergency Alerts, to radio and television via the Emergency Alert System, and on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Radio,” according to FEMA officials.
“The WEA portion of the test will be directed to all consumer cell phones. This will be the third nationwide test, but the second test to all cellular devices. The test message will display in either English or in Spanish, depending on the language settings of the wireless handset,” according to FEMA officials. “The Emergency Alert System portion of the test will be sent to radios and televisions. This will be the seventh nationwide EAS test.”
FEMA reported that “All wireless phones should receive the message only once. The following can be expected from the nationwide WEA test: Beginning at approximately 2:20 p.m. ET, cell towers will broadcast the test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, WEA-compatible wireless phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA, should be capable of receiving the test message. For consumers, the message that appears on their phones will read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.’”