The Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will conduct a mandatory nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) on Thursday, September 20, 2018.
“The WEA test message will be sent at 2:18 p.m. EDT (or 1:18 p.m. CDT) and the EAS test message will be sent at 2:20 p.m. EDT (or 1:20 p.m. CDT),” said Dale Lane, Director Shelby County Office of Preparedness.
The EAS test message is distributed to radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers.
The test message will be similar to regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar and interrupts programming for approximately one minute. The wording will be similar to the monthly EAS test message:
“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 public should receive both audio and on-screen text conveying “it is only a test.”
Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT. During this time, WEA-compatible cell phones that are switched on and within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless carrier participates in WEA, should be capable of receiving the test message. Cell phones should receive the message only once.
“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
WEA messages are sent by public safety officials to warn the public about dangerous situations and other critical emergencies. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages (e.g. tornado warnings and AMBER Alerts).
The tests will assess the operational readiness of emergency officials to distribute emergency information on a national level and ensure that the EAS and WEA are effective ways to warn the public about emergencies. The tests will also provide data into how the Integrated Public Alerts and Warning System (IPAWS) performs during an emergency.
FEMA will conduct the test with the FCC and the National Weather Service. Broadcast TV, radio, cable, satellite, wireline video, and other service providers will participate.
In the event of unforeseen circumstances, such as a major weather event, the backup date for the IPAWS National Test is Wednesday, October 3 at 2:20 p.m. EDT (1:20 p.m. CDT).
Additional Resources: www.fema.gov, www.fcc.gov