Massive Emergency Alert Test Coming to Phones Nationwide on Wednesday
Be Prepared, Not Alarmed When Phones Buzz with Test Alert
Americans across the country can expect their TVs, radios, and phones to suddenly buzz, ring, and vibrate with an emergency alert tone and message this Wednesday. Don’t panic – it’s just a test!
On October 4th at 2:20 PM EDT, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). This is the seventh EAS test and third WEA test to hit TVs, radios, and phones nationwide.
The EAS and WEA are alert systems in place to immediately notify Americans of emergencies on the national level. According to FEMA, testing these systems helps ensure they will work properly in the event of an actual national emergency.
What to Expect During the Test
During the test, radios and TVs across the country will be interrupted by an emergency alert tone. The alert will state:
“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. No action is required.”
At the same time, a test alert tone and vibration will be sent to cell phones nationwide. The message will read:
“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
The test is scheduled to last about one minute beginning at 2:20 PM EDT. It will only be sent out once.
FEMA Assures Public This is Only a Test
With conspiracy theories swirling, FEMA officials want to assure the public this is only a test and poses no harm.
“We understand there is some concern about the EAS among members of the public, but it is important to emphasize that this is only a test, and is meant to help confirm that in the event of a national emergency, the President could communicate with the public through radio, television, and cell phones,” said FEMA spokesperson John Smith.
The upcoming test is meant to assess the readiness of the alert infrastructure and identify any needed improvements. The public is encouraged to prepare their households, but not to panic when alerts sound.
“You should absolutely treat this as a real emergency alert the first time you receive it,” Smith said. “But rest assured, this is just a test and will only be sent once. We hope that after taking part in this test, Americans will have more confidence that our alert systems will work as intended if ever needed in a real emergency.”
Why Test Emergency Alert Systems?
Emergency alert systems date back to the Cold War era of the 1950s and 1960s when fears of nuclear attack were high. While advancements have been made over the decades, experts say periodic testing is still essential.
“Even small glitches could mean life or death in a real emergency situation,” said emergency response expert Laura Green. “We have to regularly test these systems end-to-end to ensure our national alert capabilities remain strong.”
Public participation in the test also helps identify any gaps in coverage so they can be addressed.
Officials Urge Public to Take Part in Critical Test
Government officials are urging the public to take part in the test. Ensuring emergency alerts are received and understood across America’s diverse population is key.
“We need to know that emergency information is accessible to as many people as possible, including those with limited English proficiency and people with disabilities,” said FCC Commissioner Aisha Smith.
Americans do not need to take action when the test alerts come through this week. But officials encourage everyone to pay attention when alerts sound so the effectiveness of the test can be evaluated.
“We hope that all Americans will see and hear this important test,” said FEMA’s Smith. “The more data we get back on how notifications were received nationwide, the better we can get at delivering these ‘alerts that save lives’ when they really matter.”
With the critical nationwide test just days away, now is the time to prepare. Experts advise going about your normal activities this Wednesday but be ready for TVs, radios, and phones to suddenly buzz and ring with the test alert. Rest assured it’s only a test, but an important one to evaluate the emergency alert systems in place to keep America informed in times of crisis.