FEMA and FCC sending emergency alert test to wireless phones nationwide Aug. 11

National

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KLFY) — On Wednesday, Aug. 11, wireless phone owners can expect an emergency alert from FEMA and the FCC at around 1:20 p.m. CDT — but don’t worry, it’s just a test.

The alerts are a part of a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).

The Wireless Emergency Alert portion of the test will be directed only to consumer cell phones where the subscriber has opted-in to receive test messages, according to FEMA. This will be the second nationwide WEA test, but the first nationwide WEA test on a consumer opt-in basis. The test message will display in either English or in Spanish, depending on the language settings of the wireless handset.

The Emergency Alert System portion of the test will be sent to radios and televisions. This will be the sixth nationwide EAS test.

FEMA and the FCC are coordinating with EAS participants, wireless providers, emergency managers and other stakeholders in preparation for this national test to minimize confusion and to maximize the public safety value of the test. The test is intended to ensure public safety officials have the methods and systems that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public in times of an emergency or disaster.

In case the Aug. 11 test is canceled due to widespread severe weather or other significant events, a back-up testing date is scheduled for Aug. 25.

The following can be expected from the nationwide test:

  • Beginning at 1:20 p.m. CDT, cell towers will broadcast the test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, WEA-compatible wireless phones where the subscriber has opted-in to receive test messages, provided that your phone is switched on, is within range of an active cell tower, and your wireless provider participates in WEA. Wireless phones should receive the message only once.
  • For consumers who have opted in to receive WEA test messages, the message that appears on their phones will read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
  • Opt-in phones with the main menu set to Spanish will display: “ESTA ES UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia. No se necesita acción.”
  • Launched in 2012, WEA is a tool for authorized government agencies to reach the American public during times of national emergency. It is used locally to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones.
  • Alerts are created and sent by authorized federal, state, local, tribal and territorial government agencies through IPAWS to participating wireless providers, which deliver the alerts to compatible handsets in geo-targeted areas.
  • To help ensure that these alerts are accessible to the entire public, including people with disabilities, the alerts are accompanied by a unique tone and vibration. The test handling code will allow FEMA to test this capability while limiting test messages to those phones that have opted in to receive test messages. 
  • The EAS portion of the test is scheduled to last approximately one minute and will be conducted with the participation of radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers and wireline video providers (EAS participants).

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