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Emergency alerts to be tested Sept. 20
Messages designed to inform public of disasters, emergencies
new_deh_emergency alert test graphic.png
Barton County will be a part of a nationwide test Sept. 20 of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts.
This event will no doubt cause concerns for the public, much like sounding the sirens for a tornado.
Barton County Emergency Management Director Amy Miller

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts Sept. 20, Barton County Emergency Management Director Amy Miller said.

The WEA portion of the test starts at 1:18 p.m. CST, and the EAS portion follows at 1:20 p.m. The test will assess the readiness to distribute message nationally and determine whether improvements are needed.

“This event will no doubt cause concerns for the public, much like sounding the sirens for a tornado,” Miller said. “So I wanted everyone to be aware of the event.”

If a major weather event or other circumstances cause the National Test to be postponed, the back-up date is Wednesday, Oct. 3. The tests are part of FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).

About the tests

The WEA test message will be sent to cell phones that are connected to wireless carriers participating in WEA. This is the fourth EAS nationwide test and the first national WEA test. 

Previous EAS national tests were conducted in September 2011, 2016 and 2017 in collaboration with the FCC, broadcasters, and emergency management officials in recognition of FEMA’s National Preparedness Month.

The EAS is a national public warning system that provides the president with communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency. The test is made available to EAS participants (i.e., radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers) and is scheduled to last approximately one minute. 

The test message will be similar to regular monthly EAS test messages. The EAS message will include a reference to the WEA test:

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System. This system was developed by broadcast and cable operators in voluntary cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and local authorities to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency an official message would have followed the tone alert you heard at the start of this message. A similar wireless emergency alert test message has been sent to all cell phones nationwide. Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not. No action is required.”

According to FEMA, cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 1:18 p.m. WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower and whose wireless carrier participates in WEA, should be capable of receiving the test message. 

Some cell phones will not receive the test message, and cell phones should only receive the message once, the agency reported. The WEA test message will have header that reads “Presidential Alert” and text that says:

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages (i.e. Tornado Warning, AMBER Alert). The national WEA test will use the same special tone and vibration. 

Users cannot opt out of the WEA test.