On Wednesday, October 4, a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts will take place in cooperation between the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission. The testing will kick off at approximately 11:20 a.m. Arizona time.
For Wireless Emergency Alerts, notifications will be sent to all consumer cell phones. For consumers, the message that appears on their phones will read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” Phones with the main menu set to Spanish will display: “ESTA ES UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia. No se necesita acción.”
Conversely, the Emergency Alert System portion of the test will be disseminated through radio and television and will last for approximately 60 seconds. The message for the Emergency Alert System 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.”
Authorized federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government agencies utilize the Integrated Public Warning Alert System (IPAWS) to generate and dispatch WEA alerts to participating wireless providers. These providers, in turn, transmit the alerts to compatible mobile devices in specific geographical zones. To ensure these alerts are accessible to the entire public, including those with disabilities, each alert is accompanied by a distinctive tone and vibration. Wireless Emergency Alerts are typically deployed in real-world situations, including:
- “National Alerts” issued by the President of the United States or the Administrator of FEMA;
- “Imminent Threat” alerts signaling imminent threats to safety or life;
- “AMBER Alerts” pertaining to missing children; and
- “Public Safety Messages” conveying recommendations for preserving lives and property.
The objective of this test is to ensure the systems continue to be effective emergency notification systems, with a particular emphasis on the national level. In the event that the October 4 test necessitates rescheduling due to extensive, severe weather or other substantial incidents, the alternative test date is Wednesday, October 11.