Test messages will momentarily interrupt TVs, cell phones and radios on Wednesday, but don’t be alarmed — it’s a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alert, FEMA announced.
The purpose of the test, which will be conducted by FEMA and the Federal Communications Commission, is to check the effectiveness of the Emergency Alert System 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.
“Public safety officials need to make sure when an emergency or disaster happens, that they have a process and system that will send out important alerts and warnings to the public,” FEMA said in a YouTube video.
The nationwide test will consist of two portions, with both beginning at 2:20 p.m. EST, with messages sent to televisions and radios, along with select cell phones that have opted-in to receive emergency alert messages.
The message may be delivered in English or Spanish, depending on the phone’s language settings.
The EAS test message will be approximately one minute long and the audio will say:
“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. No action is required.”
The TV message will include, at a minimum, the originator, event, location, valid time period of the message and the time the message was transmitted, but may vary depending on the station.
The text may read something like the following:
“A Primary Entry Point system has issued a National Periodic Test for all of the United States beginning at 2:20 PM and ending at 2:50 PM on AUG 11, 2021 (station ID).”
The test message sent to the WEA infrastructure will only be received by specially configured phones and will have a unique tone and vibration. It will read:
“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
FEMA said in the event that Wednesday’s test is canceled due to widespread severe weather or other significant events, a back-up testing date is scheduled for Aug. 25.