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National EAS Test

(CNN) — If you hear a screeching alert go off on your cell phone – and everyone else’s cell phone – this Wednesday at 1:20 pm Central time, don’t panic.

The federal government said it will conduct on Wednesday afternoon a nationwide test of its Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts. The EAS portion of the test will send an emergency alert to all radios and televisions, while the WEA portion of the test will direct alerts to all consumer cell phones.

“The purpose of Wednesday’s ( Oct. 4) test is to ensure that the systems continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level,” the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is conducting the test in coordination with the Federal Communication Commission, said in a statement.

Beginning at approximately 1:20 pm CT this Wednesday, all wireless phones should receive an alert and an accompanying text message that reads: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The free text message will be sent in either English or Spanish, depending on the language settings of your device. The text will be accompanied by a unique tone and vibration that is meant to make the alert accessible to the entire public, including people with disabilities, FEMA said.

The test will be broadcast by cell towers for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 1:20 pm CT, FEMA said. During this time, all compatible wireless phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless providers participates in WEA tests should receive the text message.

Meanwhile, all radios and televisions will also broadcast a test emergency alert at the same time as part of the broader test. This message, which will run for approximately one minute, will state: “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering the United States from 13:20 to 13:50 hours CT. This is only a test. No action is required by the public.”

As the agency has said, no action is required by you after you receive the emergency alert test on your phone or hear it through the radio or TV.

Wednesday’s test is set to be the seventh-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System – the alerts that are sent through radio and television broadcasters. It is the third nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts, but only the second to be sent to consumer cellular devices.

The most-recent test run of both systems took place in 2021. The first-ever test of the Emergency Alert System occurred more than a decade ago, in 2011.


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