Every phone and television in the U.S. will be getting an alarm at the same time on Oct. 4 during a test of two of the country’s emergency alert systems.
The emergency messages will be sent through the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system for mobile phones and the Emergency Alert System (EAS) for televisions and radios.
The alerts are aimed at testing the effectiveness of the systems and taking care of any problems that may occur before they are needed in an emergency.
When will the test take place?
The test is set for 2:20 p.m. ET (11:20 a.m. PT) on Wednesday, Oct. 4. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will be working in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, cell towers will be broadcasting the emergency alert for 30 minutes. WEA-compatible wireless 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.
The message you will get on your phone will read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
The alerts will be in the language your phone is set for and will be “accompanied by a unique tone and vibration” to make them as accessible as possible.
The alert sent on televisions and radios will last for 1 minute and will state: “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering the United States from 14:20 to 14:50 hours ET. This is only a test. No action is required by the public.”
FEMA noted that if there is severe weather or some other emergency event on Oct. 4, the test will be postponed one week, until Oct. 11.
Under normal circumstances, who would send out these messages and why?
WEA alerts “are emergency messages sent by authorized government alerting authorities through your mobile carrier,” according to the National Weather Service.
Government partners include local and state public safety agencies, FEMA, the FCC, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Weather Service.
Alerts are sent automatically to WEA-capable phones during an emergency.
The EAS system is a national public warning system used to deliver alerts to televisions and radios about things such as hazardous weather conditions, Amber Alerts and national emergency situations.
FEMA, the FCC and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service work collaboratively to maintain the EAS and WEA systems.