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Stay calm: FEMA alert to ring a distinctive tone and vibrate on your phone today

October 4 is not reserved solely for our big event, there’s something else happening between 2:20 pm ET and 2:50 pm ET.

All phones (that are turned on) within range of a cellular tower will get a sound- and vibration-accompanied notification. The goal is to test whether the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS) are properly functioning in the United States.

Today’s test will consist of two portions, testing WEA and EAS capabilities. Both tests are scheduled to begin at approximately 2:20 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 4. The WEA portion of the test will be directed to consumer cell phones. The test message will display in either English or Spanish, depending on the language settings of the wireless handset. The EAS portion of the test will be sent to radios and televisions. All wireless phones should receive the message only once.

  • Beginning at approximately 2:20 p.m. ET, cell towers will broadcast the test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, WEA-compatible wireless phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and in a geographic area where the wireless provider participates in WEA, should be capable of receiving the test message.
  • For consumers, the message that appears on their phones will read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
  • Phones with the main menu set to Spanish will display: “ESTA ES UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia. No se necesita acción.”
  • Similar to when your phone receives an Amber Alert, the WEA alert tone is generally only played when the alert is initially received by the phone and on some devices stops as soon as the user clicks a button.
  • If a phone is off before the test alert is sent and not turned back on until after the WEA Test expires (approximately 30 minutes), the phone should not get the test message.

Important information about the EAS test:

  • The EAS portion of the test is scheduled to last approximately one minute and 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 similar to the regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar. It will state: “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering the United States from 14:20 to 14:50 hours ET. This is only a test. No action is required by the public.”

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