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September 17, 2018 at 1:41 PM UPDATE

Nationwide Test of the Emergency Alert Systems Postponed Until October 3, 2018

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) on October 3, 2018. The WEA portion of the test commences at 2:18 PM 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 technological improvements are needed.

October 3 was the previously scheduled back-up date for the test, which was originally set up for this Thursday, September 20. A backup date is always planned in case of widespread severe weather or other significant events on the primary test date. FEMA and the nation’s emergency management community remain committed to the life-saving activities occurring through parts of North Carolina and South Carolina.

This is the fourth EAS nationwide test and the first national WEA test. The WEA test message will be sent to cell phones. Previous EAS national tests were conducted in September 2011, 2016 and 2017 in collaboration with the FCC, broadcasters, and emergency management officials in recognition of FEMA’s National Preparedness Month.

The EAS test is scheduled to last approximately one minute and is made available to EAS participants including radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers. 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.”

The WEA test message will read “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. It allows customers whose wireless provider participates in WEA and who own a WEA compatible wireless phone to receive geo-targeted alerts of imminent threats to safety in their area through unique tones and vibration. The national WEA test will use the same special tone and vibration.

The WEA test will be sent through IPAWS, as part of the nation’s modern alert and warning infrastructure that automatically authenticates alerts. Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, cell phones that are switched on and within range of an active cell tower should be capable of receiving the test message. Cell phones should receive the message once.

Significant coordination has been conducted with EAS Participants, wireless providers, and emergency managers in preparation for this EAS-WEA national test. 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. Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems is also a way to assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure required for the distribution of a national message and determine whether technological improvements are needed.

Receiving preparedness tips and timely information about weather conditions or other emergency events can make all the difference in knowing when to take action to be safe. FEMA and our partners are working to ensure alerts and warnings are received quickly through several different technologies, no matter whether an individual is at home, at school, at work, or out in the community. The FEMA App, which can be downloaded on both Android and Apple devices, is one way to ensure receiving both preparedness tips and weather alerts of your choice. Download the FEMA App today at https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app.

More information on the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System and Wireless Emergency Alerts is available at www.ready.gov/alerts.

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NEVADA CITY, Calif. September 17, 2018 – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on September 20, 2018. The WEA portion of the test begins at 11:18 a.m. PDT, and the EAS portion follows at 11:20 a.m. PDT. The test will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed.

This is not a test by local officials or the CodeRed Emergency Alert system. It is however a good opportunity to check your own emergency communications plan.

Do you have a plan?

If you receive an actual alert, how will you communicate with your family? Do you have one or preferably two ways of getting in touch with them? In case of cell towers not working or a prolonged power outage, where will you meet up? If you have a landline, do you have a phone that does not require power? Print out a list of your family and friends’ phone numbers, you’ll be able to get in touch when your cell phone’s battery is depleted. For mobile phone users, send a text message rather than a voice call. Text messages take up less bandwidth and can go through even if the signal strength is weak.

Background

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 (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 WEA test message will be sent to cell phones that are connected to wireless providers participating in WEA. 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 11:18 a.m. PDT. 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 (i.e. Tornado Warning, AMBER Alert). Users cannot opt out of the WEA test.

If circumstances, such as a major weather event, cause the IPAWS National Test to be postponed, the back-up date is Wednesday, October 3, 2018. [source: FEMA]