Washington, D.C. – Brace yourselves, America, for the most extensive nationwide emergency alert test is about to hit your cell phones, radios, and TVs on Sunday, October 4th!
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is gearing up for a massive trial run of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) this autumn.
Set your alarms for 2:20 p.m. Eastern Time, as this double-barreled test aims to evaluate both WEA and EAS capabilities. For cell phone users, it’s the third nationwide drill, but only the second to hit mobile devices, with messages coming in either English or Spanish based on language settings.
Radios and TVs, on the other hand, will experience their seventh nationwide EAS test. FEMA and the FCC are joining forces with emergency managers, wireless providers, and stakeholders to ensure a smooth operation, minimizing confusion and maximizing public safety.
Why all the buzz on October 4th? The goal is simple – ensure these systems remain effective for national-level emergency alerts. In case bad weather or significant events disrupt the October 4th plan, there’s a backup date on October 11th.
The WEA portion of the test kicks off via FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), using a code sent to cell phones. Meanwhile, the EAS message will circulate as a Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) message through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System-Open Platform for Emergency Networks (IPAWS-OPEN).
Expect your cell phones to buzz with the message: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” Spanish speakers will see: “ESTA ES UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia. No se necesita acción.”
For approximately 30 minutes starting at 2:20 p.m. ET, cell towers across the nation will broadcast the WEA test. Your WEA-compatible phone, if switched on and within tower range, should receive the message.
WEA alerts, essential for people with disabilities, include a unique tone and vibration, sent by authorized government agencies through IPAWS to participating wireless providers.
As for the EAS portion, it’s a one-minute trial involving radio and TV broadcasters, cable systems, satellite providers, and wireline video companies. The message is the familiar monthly EAS test, stating: “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.”
So, mark your calendars for October 4th and be ready to receive the ultimate cell phone tsunami, as FEMA and the FCC ensure we’re prepared for any emergency that might come our way!