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Test of emergency alert system scheduled for today

OBSERVER Staff Report

A nationwide test of the emergency alert system will hit all phones, TVs and radios this afternoon.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, will conduct the test at about 2:20 p.m. eastern time.

The purpose of the test is to ensure existing alert systems continue to be an effective means of warning the public about emergencies, especially at the national level. The Emergency Alert System portion of the test will be sent to all radios and televisions. The Wireless Emergency Alert portion of the nationwide test will be directed to all consumer cell phones via IPAWS and will display in English or Spanish, depending on the phone’s language setting.

IPAWS is an internet-based system administered by FEMA that enables authorities to send authenticated emergency messages to the public through several communications networks.

Beginning at about 2:20 p.m., cell towers will broadcast the nationwide IPAWS test for about 30 minutes. WEA-compatible wireless phones should be capable of receiving the test message if the phone is switched on and within range of an active cell tower, and the consumer’s wireless provider participates in WEA. All wireless phones should receive the message only once. WEA alerts will be accompanied with a unique tone and vibration to ensure they are accessible to the entire public, including people with disabilities.

The English message on consumer’s phones will read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The EAS portion of the test is scheduled to last about one minute. The test will be conducted with the participation of radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers. The test message will be like the regular monthly EAS test messages.

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