A Unified Effort to Safeguard the Nation
Testing the Waters: A Vital National Exercise
In a united endeavor to ensure the safety and preparedness of communities across the United States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are set to conduct a nationwide Emergency Alert System (EAS) test on October 4th, 2023. This annual event, known as the “Nationwide Emergency Alert Test,” plays a pivotal role in evaluating and enhancing the country’s alerting capabilities in times of crisis.
What to Expect During the Test
During the nationwide Emergency Alert Test, systems like the Emergency Alert System (EAS), Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) will undergo a rigorous examination. These systems are vital tools that allow authorized officials to quickly disseminate essential information to the public during emergencies, including severe weather events, natural disasters, Amber Alerts, and national security threats.
The Need for a National Test
Why is a national test necessary, you may ask? Federal emergency management coordinators need to make sure the national alert system is still an effective way to warn Americans about emergencies, natural catastrophes, attacks, and accidents at the national level. Recent events, like the Maui fires on August 8, have underscored the importance of having reliable systems in place.
The Message You'll Receive
While the exact wording hasn’t been released yet, the message is expected to be something akin to: “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.”
On cellphones, it will come as a text message: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
Phones on which the main menu is set to Spanish will see this: “ESTA ES UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia. No se necesita acción.”
Timing and Duration of the Test
The nationwide Emergency Alert Test will take place at the same moment across every time zone in the United States on October 4th, 2023. That means 2:20 in the afternoon in the East, 1:20 p.m. Central time, 12:20 p.m. Mountain time, and 11:20 a.m. on the West Coast. People in Alaska will hear it at 10:20 a.m., and in Hawaii, the alarms will go off at 8:20 a.m. The test is scheduled to last approximately one minute and will only go out once; there will be no repeats.
Where You'll Encounter the Test
The nationwide Emergency Alert Test will be heard and seen virtually everywhere. It’s being conducted with the participation of radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers. This means that TV shows will be interrupted, radio programming halted, and phones will get a warning message. The message will go out in both English and Spanish, depending on the language settings of the device.
A Message from FEMA and the FCC
FEMA, along with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will perform a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on October 4th, 2023, at around 2:20 p.m. ET.
WEA and EAS Testing
The WEA part of the test, the third nationwide test and second for all cell phones, will reach all consumer cell phones. Messages will be in English or Spanish depending on the device’s language settings. Meanwhile, the EAS part, the seventh nationwide EAS test, will broadcast to radios and TVs.
The Purpose of the Test
This test ensures these systems remain effective in warning the public about emergencies, particularly nationally. The backup testing date is October 11 if postponed due to severe weather or significant events.
How WEA Works
WEA employs FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) to send authenticated emergency messages via multiple networks. A code will be sent to cell phones.
EAS Testing Details
The EAS segment will last about a minute and involve various broadcasters. It will resemble regular monthly EAS test messages and require no public action.
In conclusion, the nationwide Emergency Alert Test on October 4th, 2023, highlights FEMA and the FCC’s dedication to public safety. By participating and staying informed, we ensure our alert systems are robust, reliable, and ready to respond effectively. Stay alert, stay safe, and be prepared.