Get ready: Emergency alerts to be tested nationwide next week

Emergency messages will be sent to your phone, TV and radio as a nationwide warning system is tested next week. The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will test their nationwide emergency alert system on October 4.

The Wireless Emergency Alert System (WEA) for telephones is being tested simultaneously with the Emergency Alert System (EAS) for televisions and radios. This is the seventh national EAS test and the second test of all cellular equipment in the United States.

Here’s everything you need to know about next week’s exams.

What to know about emergency alarm testing

On Wednesday, October 4, at approximately 2:20 PM ET/11:20 AM PT, cell towers will begin broadcasting emergency alerts for 30 minutes. If your phone is within range of a cell tower, you will receive a message: “This is a test of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is required.”

Emergency alerts will be in English or Spanish, depending on the language your phone is set to. Phone alerts will be “accompanied by a unique tone and vibration” to make them as convenient as possible to use.

Alerts sent on television and radio will last one minute and state: “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency from 14:20 to 14:50 EST… This is just a test and the public does not need to take any action.”

If severe weather or other events occur on October 4, the exam will be postponed to October 11.

What kind of events trigger emergency alerts?

These are the types of WEA and EAS alerts that may be sent to you in non-test situations:

  • Public Safety Alert.
  • Amber Alert issued during child abduction crisis.
  • The president issues an alert during a national emergency.

Alerts are also sent for imminent threats such as:

  • The National Weather Service issues warnings for extreme weather and natural disasters such as flash floods, tornadoes, tsunamis, severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, typhoons, storm surges, extreme winds, sandstorms, and snowstorms.
  • Active shooter.
  • Man-made disaster.
  • A blue alert is issued when a law enforcement officer is attacked.
  • Other threatening emergencies.

WEA messages are not affected by network congestion.

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