A nationwide test will cause cellphone alarms to sound across the country this week.
At 1:18 p.m. Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission will conduct a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alert. Cellphones that are switched on and within range of an active cellphone tower should receive one text message.
The message will read: “Presidential Alert: This is a TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is required.”
The Wireless Emergency Alert system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through cellphone alerts. The national test Thursday will use the same unique tone and vibration as weather alerts and Amber Alerts. This is the first time a nationwide wireless emergency alert has been tested.
The text message will be immediately followed by a test of the Emergency Alert System on radio and television, similar to regular monthly tests.
The radio and television test of the Emergency Alert System will last one minute, and the message will read: “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 cellphones nationwide. Some cellphones will receive the message; others will not. No action is required.”
The tests will assess the federal government’s ability to distribute a national message in an emergency and determine whether technological improvements are needed. This is the first test of the nationwide Wireless Emergency Alert system and the fourth nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System. The tests are being conducted in recognition of FEMA’s National Preparedness Month.
If the test cannot be held on Thursday, Sept. 20, it will be held instead on Wednesday, Oct. 3.
More information on the Emergency Alert and Wireless Emergency Alert systems is available at ready.gov/alerts.