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FEMA, FCC to conduct warning test around noon today

The nationwide test will override a cellphone's silenced or do not disturb settings.

Cell Phone Apps

GILLETTE, Wyo. — FEMA, in coordination with the FCC, will conduct a nationwide public alert and warning test beginning at 12:20 p.m. Mountain Time on Oct. 4.

The alerts will override a cellphone’s silenced or do not disturb setting, a Campbell County Facebook post said. All major U.S. wireless providers participate in Wireless Emergency Alerts and will transmit the national test to their subscribers. Mobile phones that are on and within range of an active cell tower should receive the national test. Wireless providers will transmit the national test for 30 minutes, but individual phones should receive it only once.

This is the third nationwide test for Wireless Emergency Alerts and the second to all Wireless Emergency Alerts–compatible cellphones, according to a FEMA news release. The test message will display in either English or in Spanish, depending on the language settings of the wireless handset. The message will either be “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed” or “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,” the release said. “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.”

The alert will have a unique tone and vibration that helps ensure everyone can receive it.

The Emergency Alert System test is the seventh nationally. The test is supposed to ensure that the systems are still an effective way to warn the public about emergencies, especially national ones. If the Oct. 4 test is postponed because of widespread severe weather or similar events, the test would occur Oct. 11. It should last about one minute. Radio and TV broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers and wireline video providers will transmit the message.

The test message will be similar to the regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar. It will say, “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.”