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FEMA to test national alert system

Crews secure a FEMA disaster response truck in the cargo bay of a giant C-5M Super Galaxy (Don Treeger / The Republican/TNS)
September 25, 2023

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is joining with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) that is scheduled to commence at 2:20 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

According to FEMA’s press release, while the upcoming alert marks the third nationwide test, it will only be the second time all consumer cellular devices are included.

Depending on individual handset settings, users will receive the message in either English: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed,” or Spanish: “ESTA ES UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia. No se necesita acción.”

The messages are intended to test the effectiveness of the system and do not require any action from the recipients.

According to FEMA, the upcoming WEA test will be initiated through FEMA’s centralized internet-based system, known as the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), with the objective of empowering authorities to disseminate authenticated emergency communications through various networks.

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Given the essential nature of national alerts, the alerts will be accompanied by a distinct tone and vibration, ensuring accessibility to everyone, including individuals with disabilities.

The EAS segment of the national alert test will focus on radios and televisions. It represents the seventh nationwide test of its kind. Radio listeners and television viewers can expect a message resembling regular monthly EAS test bulletins.

The EAS alert will state, “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.”

With the aim of safeguarding public safety and minimizing any potential confusion, FEMA and FCC have coordinated with various stakeholders, including wireless providers and emergency managers.

This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.