FEMA and FCC Collaborate for Groundbreaking Nationwide Cell Phone Emergency Test on October 4: Unprecedented Preparedness Measures

TechWizard: FEMA, FCC hold emergency test alert on all cell phones Oct. 4

Get Ready for the Nationwide Emergency Test on October 4

On October 4, your phone will ring, but it won’t be a message from a loved one or a co-worker. It will be a nationwide test ordered by the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are partnering to test the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts on Americans’ phones across the country.

The test is divided into two parts and is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. EST. The first part, the Emergency Alert System (EAS) test, will affect radios and televisions and will last about a minute. The message accompanying the test will state, “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by FEMA, covering the United States from 14:20 to 14:50 hours ET. This is only a test. No action is required by the public.”

The second part of the test, the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) test, will impact cell phone users. This is the second time the WEA test will be conducted on phones, but the third time the alert system has been tested overall. Phones will receive a text message displayed in either English or Spanish, depending on the language settings of the wireless handset.

FEMA and the FCC have been coordinating with various stakeholders to minimize confusion and maximize the public safety value of the test. The purpose of the October 4 test is to ensure that the systems continue to effectively warn the public about emergencies, especially those on a national level. In case the test is postponed due to severe weather or other significant events, the backup testing date is October 11.

Wireless cell phones should receive only one test text, with broadcast towers carrying out the tests for approximately 30 minutes. The message will read “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” For phones set in Spanish, the message will display “ESTA ES UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia. No se necesita acción.”

To ensure accessibility for everyone, including people with disabilities, the alerts will include a unique tone and vibration. Even if your phone has alerts silenced, it will still sound during the test.