The federal government will conduct a nationwide alert test on October 4 to assess the readiness of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will send notifications to cell phones, radios, and TVs to ensure that the system is functioning properly and that the public is familiar with it. The test will assess Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) and use FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) to broadcast emergency notifications. The test will include a message in English and Spanish, accompanied by a unique tone and vibration.
The cellphone portion of the test will assess the effectiveness of the Wireless Emergency Alert System. This system has previously been used to broadcast AMBER alerts and presidential notices during national emergencies. Using FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), the test will evaluate the system’s ability to send emergency notifications through various communications networks. Cellphone owners who have set their phones to English will receive a test message that states “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” Meanwhile, those with phones set to Spanish will see the message “ESTA ES UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia. No se necesita acción.”
The test will also include a television and radio portion using the Emergency Alert System (EAS). This will be the seventh nationwide EAS test. The cell phone part of the test is scheduled to last for about 30 minutes, and recipients will have the ability to dismiss the notification as soon as they see and hear it. In the event of an actual emergency on October 4, the test will be rescheduled to October 11.