Emergency Alert System Tests in the USA: Why, When, and How?

Learn about the crucial role of nationwide emergency alert tests in keeping the public informed and safe during various threats, and how to distinguish test alerts from real ones.

Emergency Alert System Tests in the USA: Why, When, and How?

Wednesday October 04, 2023,

2 min Read

Today, there will be a big test of the emergency alert system across the United States! This is just a practice, not a real emergency. The government wants to make sure they can quickly tell everyone if there’s ever a dangerous situation.

What’s Happening?

Starting at 2:20 p.m. ET today, the test will send messages to cell phones, TVs, and radios. Phones will make a sound and vibrate. The test will last for 30 minutes. But don’t worry, each device will only get the message once. The test message will say it's just a test, so no need to take any action.

Why the Test?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are doing this test to check if the alert system works well. This system is supposed to warn people if there are things like natural disasters or attacks. By law, they have to test this at least once every three years. The last test like this happened in 2021.

How Does it Work?

The National Wireless Emergency Alert System sends out these test messages. For cell phones, the message will show up in English or Spanish, depending on your phone’s settings. TV and radio will also announce this test. This system makes sure messages get to as many people as possible, quickly and at the same time.

What Happens in Other Countries?

India did something similar recently. Their government tested an alert system to see how well it worked. Tests like these help governments around the world make sure they can get important information to people during emergencies.

Some People Are Confused

Misinformation on social media suggests the alert test is for activating nanoparticles in people's bodies. However, experts and FEMA officials have debunked and dismissed these false claims.

Tests like the one happening today are really important. They help make sure that if there’s ever an emergency, the government can tell everyone what’s happening and what to do. Remember, if you get a message later today, it’s just a test - there’s no real emergency happening!