In a statement, FEMA said it will conduct a nationwide test Wednesday of the Wireless Emergency Alerts system (WEA) which will go to cell phones. It will also make a test Wednesday of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which involves radio and television systems and their audiences.
According to the statement, the dual test “will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed.”
It will be the first national WEA test, and the fourth nationwide test of EAS, the statement said. The last previous EAS test was carried out in September, 2017, FEMA said.
In the statement, FEMA said cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for about 30 minutes, starting at 2:18 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time.
During the test broadcasting period, FEMA said, WEA compatible cell phones “that are switched on, in range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA should be capable of receiving the test message.”
It said cell phones should get the message only once.
According to FEMA, the WEA message will have a header saying “Presidential Alert.”
In its text, FEMA said, the message is to read :
“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
In its statement, FEMA said the WEA system is used to warn about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through cell phone alerts.
The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages, such as those for tornado warnings or AMBER alerts, FEMA said.
FEMA said the EAS test will begin at 2:20 p.m.
EAS was described by FEMA as a national public warning system that provides the President with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency. FEMA said the test is made available to EAS participants which include radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers.
As described by FEMA, the EAS message is to begin with the words “THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System. “ It is to conclude, FEMA said, by announcing that ”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.”
FEMA said the test was planned for Sept. 20 but was postponed by the need to respond to Hurricane Florence.
EAS tests have been conducted previously in collaboration with the FCC, broadcasters, and emergency management officials in recognition of FEMA’s National Preparedness Month, FEMA said.