Testing of alert system set today

Published 12:03 pm Wednesday, August 11, 2021

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If you feel your phone vibrate or emit an unusual tone today, you won’t be alone.

According to a release from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission, testing will be conducted on the nation’s public alert and warning system at 1:20 p.m. central time today.

FEMA and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will test the nation’s public alert and warning systems at 2:20 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday. FEMA regularly tests the public alert and warning systems to assess the operational readiness of the supporting infrastructure. The tests also help identify any needed technological and administrative improvements to the systems.

This week’s testing will be the sixth test of the nationwide public alert and warning systems and has been planned since June 2020. The purpose of the test is to assess the effectiveness of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to receive and convey a national message via radio and television and of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) infrastructure to deliver a test message to mobile phones.

The EAS national test is very similar to regular monthly tests typically originated by state authorities. During the test, radios and televisions across the country may interrupt normal programming to play the EAS test message. The message may be delivered in English or Spanish.

The test message sent to the WEA infrastructure will only be received by specially configured phones and will read, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

Only phones that have been opted in specifically to receive system test messages will display the test message, which will be in either English or Spanish, depending on the device’s language settings. Opt in instructions can be found here. Most mobile phones will not display the test message. In contrast, consumers will automatically receive real emergency alerts on compatible phones (even if they do not receive the test message).

Through this test, FEMA and the FCC are partnering with various agencies and other stakeholder groups to assess information about the performance of the opt-in WEA test, including emergency managers and other stakeholders. In addition, the FCC will gather information about EAS and WEA test performance directly from communications providers.  For more information about WEA and EAS can be found at Integrated Public Alert & Warning System | FEMA.gov