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FEMA to test Emergency alert system Wednesday

Posted at 10:35 AM, Oct 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-02 15:22:14-04

(PRESS RELEASE) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will activate the nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on October 3. The initial test was postponed last month due to ongoing response efforts for Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas.

The WEA portion of the test commences at 1:18 p.m. CST, and the EAS portion follows at 1:20 p.m. CST. The test will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed.

October 3 was the previously scheduled back-up date for the test, which was originally set up for September 20. A backup date is always planned in case of widespread severe weather or other significant events on the primary test date. FEMA, Louisiana and many other members of the emergency management community remain active with response and recovery activities occurring through parts of North Carolina and South Carolina.

“As with any aspect of emergency management, it is always important to test our resources and determine if any challenges exist,” says GOHSEP Director Jim Waskom. “We look forward to working with our federal partners on examining this vital communications tool. Getting clear and accurate information to those facing an emergency is critical in helping protect the public.”

The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages (i.e. Tornado Warning, AMBER Alert). Users cannot opt out of receiving the WEA test.

Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 1:18 p.m. Cell phones should only receive the message once. During this time, WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and have a wireless provider that participates in WEA should be capable of receiving the test message. The WEA test message will have a header that reads “Presidential Alert” and text that says:

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The EAS is a national public warning system that provides the President with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency. The test is made available to EAS participants (i.e., radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers) and is scheduled to last approximately one minute. The test message will be similar to regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar. The EAS message will include a reference to the WEA test:

“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 cell phones nationwide. Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not. No action is required.”

Find more tips on weather and preparedness on GOHSEP’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Listen to conversations on all aspects of emergency management by downloading GOHSEP’s The Get A Game Plan Podcast. You can receive emergency alerts on most smartphones and tablets by downloading the new Alert FM App. It is free for basic service. The Get A Game Plan App is another resource available to help you and your family prepare for any type of emergency. You can download the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Guide and find other information at