Americans’ Cell Phones to Receive Emergency Alert Test this Week

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission are planning to test both the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on Wednesday, October 4, at 2:20 p.m. Eastern. The test will be conducted in two parts, with one set to go to cell phones and the other to radio and TV stations.

FEMA says the alert will have a unique tone and vibration to make the alert accessible to all recipients. Phones should receive the message only one time in the 30 minutes after the test begins on Wednesday.

“The purpose of the October 4 test is to ensure that the systems continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level,” FEMA and the FCC explained in a statement.

The WEA test will go to Americans’ cell phones and will include one text message that will read, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The agency noted this will be the third nationwide test of the system, although it will be just the second test that has gone to all cell phones since the system was established in 2012.

FEMA and the FCC are coordinating with EAS participants, wireless providers, emergency managers and others in preparation for the test to minimize confusion and maximize the public safety value of the test.

The agencies have set a backup testing date of October 11, which will be used if there is widespread severe weather or other significant events occurring on October 4 that derail the planned test.