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Saturday, December 9, 2023

What you need to know about emergency alert test set to hit phones Wednesday

Be prepared to hear an alarm blaring on your phone Wednesday afternoon — but no worries, it will likely just be a government test. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a nationwide emergency test will be conducted on devices Wednesday afternoon. It will be labeled as a test and not as an actual emergency. 

Here’s what you need to know.

When will the alert test be?

The test of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) will take place at 2:20 p.m. EDT on Wednesday. In the case of severe weather or other significant events, the backup date for testing is Oct. 11.

What devices will receive it?

The test alert will be sent to all cellphones, wireless devices, radios, and TVs. All cellphones within range of an active cell tower should receive the national test.

What will it say?

On a cellphone, the test will read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” There will also be tones and vibrations alongside the message. Those who have their phone settings set to Spanish will receive the same message in Spanish.

The national test will also be announced on TV and radio and will say, “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.”

What action is needed?

No action is needed after receiving the test.

What’s the point of the test?

According to FEMA, the test “will help ensure that Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and the Emergency Alert System (EAS) continue to be effective ways to warn the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level.”

FEMA is required to test IPAWS at least once every three years. The last test was conducted in 2021.

How will the message be sent out?

All of the major U.S. wireless providers will transmit the national emergency test to their subscribers. It will be transmitted for about 30 minutes. 

Radios and TVs turned on and tuned into a broadcast station, a satellite radio or TV service or cable or wireless TV should also receive a test.

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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