- Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency
Media Contact for National Test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on October 3, beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT.
Christopher Besse, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert Systems (EAS) on Wednesday October 3, 2018. The WEA portion of the test commences at 2:18 p.m. EDT, and the EAS portion follows at 2:20 p.m. EDT. The WEA test message will be sent to cell phones that are connected to wireless providers participating in WEA. This is the fourth EAS nationwide test and the first national WEA test.
Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT. During this time, WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA likely will receive the test message. Some cell phones may not receive the test message, and cell phones should only receive the message once. The WEA test message will be accompanied by an audible tone and will have a 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). Users cannot opt out of receiving the WEA test.
The EAS is a national public warning system that provides the President with the 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. Participating television and radio broadcasters will sound an audible tone and will display a message that is similar to regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar. 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.”
The test was originally planned for September 20, 2018 but was postponed until October 3, 2018 due to ongoing response efforts for Hurricane Florence.
For additional information about the test, including Frequently Asked Questions, see: https://www.fema.gov/emergency-alert-test
Alerting Authority in Massachusetts
MEMA is the designated alerting authority for Massachusetts and has the authority and ability to activate the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). In 2018, MEMA has issued WEAs to targeted areas on behalf of impacted communities during the March coastal storms, law enforcement incidents, and the recent greater Lawrence gas line incident.
WEAs for weather warnings are separately issued by the National Weather Service for Tornado Warnings, Flash Flood Warnings, and other dangerous weather conditions. WEAs save lives! – WEAs for tornado warnings for the 2016 Concord tornado and the 2018 Webster tornado are credited with helping people take shelter during the storms.
The EAS and WEA are some of the many ways to receive emergency alerts and information. To learn more about other warnings and information, including MEMA’s Massachusetts Alerts app, see: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/be-informed-and-receive-emergency-alerts