Heads up: National test of emergency alert system on Wednesday

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Heads up: a nationwide test of the federal emergency alert system is set to go off Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 1:20 CT.

That means phones radios, and televisions will all get pinged as officials test the system.

Nationwide test of two alert systems

The nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) is being conducted by FEMA, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), according to a press release.

WEA test for cell phones

The WEA test goes out to consumer cell phones with participating providers. Those who have their mobile devices turned on, within range of an active cell tower, will get a text alert in either English or Spanish, depending on their account settings.

It will read “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed,” or, for Spanish language settings, “ESTA ES UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia. No se necesita acción.”

The test will be transmitted for about 30 minutes, but sent to cell phones only once.

To ensure alerts are accessible to all, they will also set off a vibration and a special tone.

These specialized alerts may be sent by authorized federal, state, local, tribal and territorial government agencies in case of emergency.

EAS test for radios, televisions

The EAS portion will be sent out to radios and televisions. It should last about one minute.

The message sent out will be, “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.”

Repeat testing to ensure functionality in actual emergency

This isn’t the first time for these tests.  The WEA has been tested three times nationwide, though this is just the second time it’s being checked on all cellular devices.

The EAS has previously been tested six times nationally.

The systems are being checked to ensure that in the case of an actual emergency, whether national or local, notifications will go through.

If for any reason the testing cannot be done on Oct. 4, it will take place Oct. 11.

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