Nationwide Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alert to be tested August 11

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test to assess the capabilities of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alert next Wednesday, August 11, with a back-up date of August 25 in case of an actual weather or other emergency. This is the sixth national Emergency Alert System (EAS) Test and the second national Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) Test.

This time, however, the WEA portion of the test will be directed only to those cellphones where the subscriber has opted-in to receive WEA Test messages. Both the WEA portion and the EAS Test will commence at 1:20 p.m. CST. The test will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether technological improvements are needed.

These nationwide tests will be sent through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, as part of the nation’s modern alert and warning infrastructure that automatically authenticates alerts. The test is intended to ensure public safety officials have the methods and systems that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public in times of an emergency or disaster.

Cell towers will broadcast the WEA Test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, cell phones that have opted-in to receive WEA test messages, and are switched on, within range of an active cell tower and configured to receive WEA test messages, should receive the test message. Phones should receive the message once. WEA alerts are accompanied by a unique tone and vibration.

The national WEA test will use the same special tone and vibration. The test message 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.”

The Emergency Alert System test is made available to EAS participants (i.e., radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers) and is scheduled to last approximately one minute. The test message will be similar to regular monthly test messages with which the public is familiar.