Test Messages Will be Sent to TVs and Radios Along with
Select Cell Phones That Have Opted-in to Receive Test Messages
WASHINGTON – FEMA, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission,
will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless
Emergency Alerts (WEA) this summer.
The national test will consist of two portions, testing WEA and EAS capabilities. Both
tests will begin at 2:20 p.m. ET on Thursday, Aug. 11.
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. 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.
Major information about the test includes:
The purpose of the Aug. 11 test is to ensure that the EAS and WEA systems
continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies,
particularly those on the national level. Periodic testing of public alert and
warning systems helps to assess the operational readiness of alerting infrastructure
and to identify any needed technological and administrative improvements.
The WEA portion of the test will be initiated using FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert
and Warning System (IPAWS), a centralized internet-based system administered by
FEMA that enables authorities to send authenticated emergency messages to the
public through multiple communications networks. The WEA test will be
administered via a code that alerts only phones that have opted in to receive WEA
test messages. The EAS portion of the test will be initiated using FEMA-designated
Primary Entry Point stations.
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.
Anyone who has opted in to receive test messages on their wireless phone will receive
the message only once. The following can be expected from the nationwide test:
Beginning at 2:20 p.m. ET, 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, 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. Wireless phones should receive the message
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
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
Other important information about the EAS test:
The test message will be similar to the regular monthly EAS test messages with
which the public is familiar. It will state: “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. No action is required.”
Emergency alerts are created and sent by authorized federal, state, local, tribal
and territorial government agencies. EAS participants receive the alerts through
IPAWS or through local “over-the-air” monitoring sources. EAS participants then
disseminate the emergency alerts to affected communities
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