FEMA conducting nationwide test on Oct. 3 of Wireless Emergency Alert and Emergency Alert System

On Wednesday, Oct. 3, starting at about 2:20 p.m., the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS) to test national warning capabilities.

The WEA portion of the test commences at 2:18 p.m. EDT, and the EAS portion follows at 2:20 p.m. EDT. The test will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed.

The WEA test message will be sent to cell phones that are connected to wireless providers participating in WEA. More than 100 providers, including the largest providers, participate in the WEA program.

This is the fourth EAS nationwide test and the first national WEA test.

Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT. During this time, WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA should be capable of receiving the test message. Some cell phones will not receive the test message, and cell phones should only receive the message once.

The WEA test message will have a header that reads “Presidential Alert” and text that says:

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages such as tornado warnings and AMBER Alerts. Users cannot opt out of receiving the WEA test.

The EAS is a national public warning system that provides the President with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency. The test is made available to EAS participants – such as radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers – and is scheduled to last about one minute. The test message will be similar to regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar. The EAS message will include a reference to the WEA test:

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System. This system was developed by broadcast and cable operators in voluntary cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and local authorities to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency an official message would have followed the tone alert you heard at the start of this message. A similar wireless emergency alert test message has been sent to all cell phones nationwide. Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not. No action is required.”

For more information, watch this FEMA video and read FEMA’s fact sheet about the test.