Starting about 2:20 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, Oct. 4, emergency alerts will be sent to radios, TVs and cellphones. There is no need to be alarmed–the alerts are only a test.
We are used to getting alerts on our phones and on our TVs warning us about stormy weather, missing children and road closures. Getting those messages out takes practice and coordination. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are required to hold a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) every three years. The last nationwide test was Aug. 11, 2021.
Do all cellphones get the message at the same time?
The majority of people will get the WEA test message at approximately 2:20 p.m. on Oct. 4, according to a news release from FEMA. Phones that are in airplane mode, off or not in range of a cell tower may not receive the message.
What will the message say?
According to FEMA, the message that appears on your phone will say, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
Phones with the main menu set to Spanish will display this text: “ESTA UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia. No se necesita acción.”
“The alerts are accompanied by a unique tone and vibration,” the news release said. This makes the alerts accessible to people with disabilities.
While cell towers will broadcast the test message for 30 minutes, each individual cell phone should only get the message once.
What will I see on my television/hear on the radio?
The test message will be similar to the monthly test messages we see on our TVs.
According to the news release, “The test is scheduled to last approximately one minute.” Television and radio broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television companies will all participate in the test.
Broadcast testing is scheduled to run from 2:20 p.m. until 2:50 p.m. ET. The government uses military time in the emergency message system–2:20 p.m. appears as 14:20.
The message will read, “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.”