The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has announced a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).
The test is scheduled for tomorrow, October 4, at approximately 2:20 p.m. ET and will involve sending test messages to all TVs, radios, and cell phones in the United States. The announcement was made through an official press release on FEMA’s website.
The national test will consist of two portions: one for WEA and another for EAS. The WEA portion will be directed to consumer cell phones, marking the third nationwide test of its kind but the second to all WEA-compatible cellular devices. The message will display in either English or Spanish, depending on the language settings of the wireless handset.
The EAS portion will be sent to radios and televisions, making it the seventh nationwide EAS test. Both tests are designed to ensure that these systems continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on a national level.
Beginning at approximately 2:20 p.m. ET, cell towers will broadcast the test for about 30 minutes. WEA-compatible wireless phones that are switched on and within range of an active cell tower should be capable of receiving the test message.
According to FEMA, the test will consist of a screeching warning tone that will contain a warning message that will read, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
The alarm will also send out warning messages in Spanish for cellphone users who have changed their phone language setting to Spanish.
In case the test on October 4 is postponed due to widespread severe weather or other significant events, a back-up testing date has been set for October 11.
While the purpose of the test is ostensibly to ensure the systems’ effectiveness, the timing and nature of this announcement have left many Americans feeling uneasy. With the world in a state of flux—geopolitical tensions, climate crises, and public health emergencies—it’s hard not to feel a sense of impending doom.
While FEMA is conducting a nationwide emergency alert system test, Russia is also carrying out emergency drills in preparation for potential nuclear explosions.
“Another bout of nuclear sabre-rattling has emerged from Russia, as the country tests its emergency response to a nuclear attack, and leading commentators urged the Kremlin to carry out an intimidatory nuclear test,” AFR reported.
The news outlet continued, “Russia on Tuesday reportedly began testing its mass-evacuation plans for civilians in the event of a devastating nuclear attack, according to news reports quoting Russian media outlet Baza.”
Moreover, Germany retested its emergency warning system last month. The test included warning messages on cellphones and alarms across the country. However, the sirens in Berlin did not sound.
Germany has been working on its emergency warning systems. In December 2022, Germany successfully used cell broadcast for the first time. The message was intended to reach all mobile devices that are compatible with Cell Broadcast and have reception.
Italy also tested its new IT-Alert public warning system in the Lazio region around Rome on September 27. The test was rescheduled for midday on that day.
“This is a TEST MESSAGE from the Italian public alert system. It will alert you in the event of a major emergency once operational. To get more information go to www.it-alert.it and fill out the questionnaire,” the alert reads.