SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Where will you be at 1:18 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3?
If in an office or out shopping, or eating a late lunch, you’ll surely be shaken when all cell phones around you receive a simultaneous emergency text message, but it’s only a Wireless Emergency Alert test. At 1:20 p.m., alerts will also air on all radios and televisions as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission test IPAWS, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System through the Emergency Alert System.
This coordinated effort by the FCC, broadcasters, and emergency management officials is part of FEMA’s National Preparedness Month. Originally scheduled for Sept. 20 and delayed due to bad weather along the east coast, it will be the fourth nationwide EAS test and the first national WEA test.
EAS allows the President to address the nation through radio and television stations, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers during a national emergency and will be similar to regular monthly EAS test messages. Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test message as a “Presidential Alert” for approximately 30 minutes, although phones should only receive the message once.
The Emergency Alert System is a national warning system designed to automatically preempt radio and television programming, allowing the President to speak and enabling local weather emergency alerts. Should cellular phone systems, internet providers, and power systems fail, Yea!106.5, 98.3 Fox FM, and KiX 100.3 are the only local radio stations with backup power generator systems able to continue providing updated information to the public.