According to information from officials at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 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) beginning 11:18am PDT Wednesday, October 3.
The WEA test message will be sent to cell phones connected to wireless providers participating in WEA. Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, WEA 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. These cell phones should receive the message only once.
The WEA test text message will have a header that reads “Presidential Alert” and text stating:
THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.
The WEA system is also used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages (i.e. Tornado Warning, AMBER Alert). Users cannot opt out of receiving the WEA test.
The test will also be made available to EAS participants (ie. radio and television broadcasters) and is scheduled to last approximately one minute.
This EAS test message will be similar to regular monthly EAS test messages:
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.
Previous EAS national tests were conducted in November 2011, September 2016, and September 2017. This is the first national WEA test.
The test, which had previously been scheduled to take place on September 20th, was rescheduled to October 3rd due to severe weather response efforts taking place at the time in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
The test is done to assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national emergency messages and determine whether improvements are needed.