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Don't panic: An emergency alert test will take place in the US in October

The test will send an alert to all cellular phones in the US.
August 31, 2023
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  • FEMA and the FCC will conduct a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts and Emergency Alert System.
  • The test is scheduled for October 4 and will begin at 2:20 p.m. ET.
  • If the test is delayed, it will be rescheduled for October 11.

Get ready to be jumped scared by an emergency test this fall. FEMA and the FCC are working together to test the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS). And it won’t matter if you have an unlocked phone or carrier phone because the test is coming to all consumer cell phones.

FEMA has announced that it will conduct a nationwide test of the EAS and WEA in coordination with the FCC. Both tests will happen on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, starting around 2:20 p.m. ET. At least the test isn’t kicking off in the morning, so you don’t have to worry about your sleep being disrupted.

The first test will be for the WEA and will last for 30 minutes. During this time, all cellular devices will receive one message that states, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” The alert will be displayed in English or Spanish depending on your phone settings. This will be the third nationwide test, but only the second test for all cellular devices, according to FEMA.

The second test of the day will be for the EAS, which will send an alert to TVs and radios. It will last for one minute and will be similar to monthly EAS test messages. You’ll receive a message that says, “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.”

FEMA warns that the test is slated to start on October 4, but could be delayed in situations with widespread severe weather or other significant events. If the delay happens, the test will be rescheduled for October 11.