Tests ensure public will be adequately informed during emergencies
Published 8:31 pm Tuesday, October 2, 2018
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, will conduct a nationwide test of Wireless Emergency Alerts and Emergency Alert System Wednesday.
The WEA portion of the test begins at 1:18 p.m. CDT, and the EAS portion follows at 1:20 p.m. CDT. This is the fourth EAS nationwide test and the first national WEA test.
What to expect
Your phone will sound and vibrate once during the 30-minute test window, between 1:18 p.m. and 1:48 p.m. in Minnesota.
If your cell phone is switched on, your phone will sound loudly and vibrate, and you’ll receive a one-time message that says, “This is a test of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
If your cell phone is switched off, or in airplane mode, it will receive the message as soon as you turn it on, as long as it’s within the 30-minute test window.
No need to panic. FEMA just wants to make sure it works, so that when WEA system is needed, it will be ready to go.
Participating broadcasters will sound an audible tone at 1:20 p.m. CDT and will display a message that is similar to regular monthly EAS test messages.
The test will last approximately one minute.
The test is available to radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers.
This test is designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the nation’s emergency alerting capabilities.
Frequently asked Q&A
What is the reason for the nationwide test of the WEA system?
The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations — such as Tornado Warnings and AMBER Alerts — through alerts on cell phones.
May I disable this feature on my phone?
Users cannot opt out of receiving the WEA test. That means that, if you’re in certain environments such as a hospital, school or library on October 3, you will want to plan accordingly to avoid disruptions.
What is the purpose of the EAS?
The EAS is a national public warning system that provides the President with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency.
Both EAS and WEA are broadcasts and do not collect any data.
WEA is not capable of tracking the location of anyone receiving a WEA alert.
You will not be charged for this test alert, nor will you be charged for any received EAS or WEA messages.
The test was scheduled for September 20, 2018 but it was postponed until October 3, 2018 due to response efforts for Hurricane Florence. Visit this FEMA website for additional information.
Minnesota alerting authorities
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety division of Emergency Communication Networks oversees the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System.
This system provides alerting authorities with the ability to immediately notify the public through EAS and WEA messages when an emergency requires them to evacuate, take shelter or avoid a dangerous area.
There are currently 72 local alerting authorities in Minnesota—including the Minnesota Department of Public Safety division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
WEAs for weather warnings are separately issued by the National Weather Service for Tornado Warnings, Flash Flood Warnings and other dangerous weather conditions.
Visit the IPAWS website to learn more about other warning capabilities.