Nationwide Test of Emergency Alert System Set for Today on Radio, TV

November 9, 2011

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), along with its federal, state and local partners, is reminding the American public that today, at 2:00 p..m Eastern, Americans should expect to see or hear the first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System on their TVs or radios.

The national Emergency Alert System was designed as warning system that can be activated by the President, if needed, to provide information to the American public during emergencies. Although it is often tested at the local level, it has never before been tested on a nationwide scale. Today’s test will occur simultaneously across the U.S. and its territories and will last approximately 30 seconds, after which regular programming will resume.

Officials said the test will look and sound very similar to the local tests of the Emergency Alert System that already occur frequently

This test of the Emergency Alert System will appear on broadcast radio and television stations, cable television systems, satellite radio and television systems, and wireline video service systems.

Officials said the test will not affect landline or mobile phones, power grids, or Internet connectivity.

The test will allow FEMA, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to assess how well the Emergency Alert System would perform its primary function: alerting the public about a national emergency. The federal agencies expect to receive that feedback over the next several weeks, and will apply those lessons learned to ongoing efforts to modernize and improve the current system.

“At 2:00 pm eastern today all Americans should remember – don’t stress, it’s just a test,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “Today’s test will be an important chance for FEMA, the FCC and our other partners to determine what works well in our current system, what doesn’t, and what improvements need to be made as we work to build a modern and fully accessible public alert and warning system.”

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