As part of National Preparedness Month, 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 Alerts (WEA) on October 3, 2018 around 11:20 a.m. Pacific time. This test will assess the systems and equipment used to alert the public in an emergency, and determine whether improvements are needed. This will be the fourth nationwide EAS test conducted by FEMA, and the first national WEA test.
The WEA test message will be sent to all cell phones served by participating wireless carriers. Users cannot opt out of the test. Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 11:18 a.m. Pacific time. Compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA should receive the test message. Some cell phones will not receive the test message, and users should only receive the message once. The test message will have a header that reads “Presidential Alert” and text that says:
“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
The WEA system is used to warn the public about critical situations through alerts on cell phones. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as other WEA messages like weather warnings and AMBER Alerts.
EAS is a national public warning system that provides authorities with the ability to address the public during an emergency. The test will be carried by participating TV and radio stations, cable systems, and satellite providers around 11:20 a.m. Pacific time and will last about a minute. The test message will be similar to the familiar weekly and monthly EAS tests, and will include a reference to the WEA test:
“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. A similar wireless emergency alert test message has been sent to all cell phones nationwide. Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not. No action is required.”
More information about the test is available at fema.gov/emergency-alert-test.
People who are interested in receiving local emergency messages by cell phone, landline, and email are encouraged to sign up for ALERT King County. Get details about this local opt-in system and register at kingcounty.gov/ALERTKingCounty.