FEMA will conduct the first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System

National League of Cities
10.10.2011
By Laura Bonavita

On November 9, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will conduct the first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST), a test that will last for approximately three minutes.

The EAS is a system designed to transmit emergency alerts and warnings to the public at the national, state, and local levels.

EAS participants broadcast alerts and warnings regarding severe weather, child abductions and other types of emergencies. EAS alerts are transmitted over radio and television broadcast stations, cable television and other media services.

Although local and state components of the EAS are tested on a weekly and monthly basis, there has never been a nationwide test or a national activation of the system.

Unlike the monthly tests, the national test will occur almost simultaneously on almost all TV and radio stations.

The purpose of the test is to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the system as a way to alert the public during nationwide emergencies.

Although the EAS test will be initiated by FEMA, the FCC is telling local governments they can use the test as an opportunity to work with local broadcasters and cable providers to educate appropriate government officials and staff about the EAS, such as how it works and when it should be activated.

Finally, the FCC is asking local government officials to help inform residents in advance of the test, so that they will know what to expect.

Details: Additional information can be found at the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau website at www.fcc.gov/pshs.

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