The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) at 2:20 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 11.
The WEA portion of the test will be sent only to consumer cell phone subscribers who have opted-in to receive text messages. The second nationwide WEA test, this will be the first nationwide WEA test on a consumer opt-in basis. The test will display in either English or Spanish, based on the phone’s language setting.
The EAS test will be sent to radios and televisions. This is the sixth nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System.
Both FEMA and the FCC are coordinating with EAS participants, wireless providers, emergency managers, and other stakeholders to prepare for the tests to minimize confusion and maximize public safety. The test is intended to ensure public safety officials have systems in place to alert the public to emergencies or disasters.
Should the tests be canceled due to weather or other emergency situations, a backup date is scheduled for Aug. 25.
In 2007, FEMA started the process of modernizing the public alert and warning system by integrating new technologies into the existing alert systems. The new system, known as the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), went into operation in 2011 and now supports nearly 1,600 state, local, tribal, territorial, and federal users through a standardized message format. IPAWS allows emergency managers, police, and fire departments, among others, to send alerts and warning messages over multiple communication pathways.