WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a mandatory nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on September 27, 2017 at 2:20 pm EDT. The test will assess the readiness for distribution of the national level test message, as well as verify its delivery.
The EAS test is made available to radio, television, cable, and direct broadcast satellite systems, and is scheduled to last approximately one minute. The test’s message will be similar to the regular monthly test message of the EAS with which the public is familiar, only inserting the word “national.” “This is a national test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test.”
Significant coordination and regional testing has been conducted with the broadcast community and emergency managers in preparation for this EAS national test. The test is intended to ensure public safety officials have the methods and systems that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public in times of an emergency or disaster. Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems is also a way to assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure required for the distribution of a national message and determine whether technological improvements are needed.
Conducting the test following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria will provide insight into the resiliency of our national-level alerting capabilities in impacted areas. The test will also provide valuable data into how the Integrated Public Alerts and Warning System (IPAWS) performs during and following a variety of conditions. With two major hurricanes already making landfall, and a potential for two more impacting our nation, we need to have the ability to maintain the continuity of critical infrastructure under various conditions.
Receiving preparedness tips and timely information about weather conditions or other emergency events can make all the difference in knowing when to take action to be safe. FEMA and our partners are working to ensure alerts and warnings are received quickly through several different technologies, no matter whether an individual is at home, at school, at work, or out in the community. The FEMA App, which can be downloaded on both Android and Apple devices, is one way to ensure receipt of both preparedness tips and weather alerts. The FEMA App can be downloaded at www.fema.gov/mobile-app.
The back-up date for the test is October 4, 2017, at 2:20 pm EDT, in case the September 27 test is cancelled. More information on the IPAWS and Wireless Emergency Alerts is available at www.ready.gov/alerts. You can also access a video, FEMA Accessible Emergency Alert System IPAWS Test Message, in American Sign Language.
This is the third mandatory nationwide test of the EAS. The first test was conducted in November 2011 in collaboration with the FCC, broadcasters, and emergency management officials. The second mandatory test was conducted in September 2016.
Background: In 2007, FEMA began modernizing the nation’s public alert and warning system by integrating new technologies into the existing alert systems. The new system, known as the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) became operational in 2011. Today, IPAWS supports more than 900 local, state, tribal, and federal users through a standardized message format. IPAWS enables public safety alerting authorities such as emergency managers, police, and fire departments to send the same alert and warning message over multiple communication pathways at the same time to citizens in harm’s way, helping to save lives. For more information on FEMA’s IPAWS, go to: www.fema.gov/ipaws. For more preparedness information, go to www.ready.gov.