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 Alert (WEA) on Thursday, Sept. 20 beginning at 2:18 p.m.
The test will evaluate the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether technological improvements are 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 tone and vibration. The test message will display “Presidential Alert” and read “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
The WEA test will be sent through the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS), as part of the nation’s modern alert and warning infrastructure that automatically authenticates alerts. 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.
“This is the first national test of the Wireless Emergency Alert capability, we want to make sure residents know this is only a test and not to be alarmed when they receive a ‘Presidential Alert’ on their cell phones,” said Melissa Havens, director of Fayette County Emergency Management Agency.
The EAS test will take place at 2:20 p.m. and is only available to EAS participants (e.g., radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers). The test message will last approximately one minute and be similar to regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar.
FEMA has set Oct. 3 as the secondary test date if needed.