Emergency Alert on Wednesday: What to Know About the Phone Notification

October 3, 2023
1 min read
Emergency Alert on Wednesday: What to Know About the Phone Notification
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The Gist: Your phone may start buzzing around 2:20 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 4, but don’t fret—it’s part of a large-scale national test to ensure emergency alert systems are up to snuff.

The Details: At the mentioned time, FEMA, alongside other agencies, will kickstart a test involving the Wireless Emergency Alerts and the Emergency Alert System. Through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, a code will be sent to mobile phones, activating a broadcast signal from cell towers for approximately 30 minutes.

This means that if your phone is switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and your wireless provider is part of the WEA program, you’ll receive this test message.

Additionally, around the same time, a one-minute EAS test will roll out, engaging radio, television, cable systems, and other platforms to ensure they are adequately prepared to relay critical information during emergencies.

This Isn’t New: The emergency alert system has existed since 1951 and would send alerts to radios and TVs. The current version, which sends an alert to cell phones started in 2011. This is the third test since 2011.

By The Numbers:

  • 30 minutes: Duration of the WEA test broadcast.
  • 1 minute: Duration of the EAS test.

In Context: Amid the ongoing hurricane season, this test is a vital part of ensuring that emergency alert systems function seamlessly when real emergencies strike. It’s all about ensuring that the public, especially older adults, are well-prepared.

Why It Matters: Such tests play a critical role in gauging the readiness of emergency alert systems, which in turn, is crucial for public safety. The aim is to ensure that in the face of real emergencies, citizens are promptly informed and know how to respond.

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