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Help Us Spread the Word – On November 9, “This is Just a Test”


Editor's Note (Nov 2): Visit for more information, including our new widget.

Over the past few months, we have written on this blog about the upcoming nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, which is now less than two weeks away. The test will take place on Wednesday, November 9th at 2:00 pm eastern standard time, and will be the first time this system, which is often tested and used by officials at the local level, will be tested across the entire country.

The national Emergency Alert System is an alert and warning system that can be activated by the President, if needed, to provide information to the American public during emergencies. NOAA’s National Weather Service, governors, and state and local emergency authorities also use parts of the system to issue more localized emergency alerts. The test is an important exercise in ensuring that the system is effective in communicating critical information to the public in the event of a real national emergency. It is a critical communications tool that can provide alerts, warning and information rapidly across multiple television and radio platforms.

Our top priority is to make sure that all members of the public know that this test is coming up – and that it is just a test. For most of us, this test will look and sound very similar to the local tests of the Emergency Alert System that we often see on TV or hear on the radio.

But as we always say here at FEMA, we’re just part of the team – and we’re counting on all of you to help us spread the word in your communities, with your co-coworkers, neighbors, friends and loved ones.

To help do that, we have put together a couple of videos you can use to help explain what this test is and what people can expect:

Administrator Fugate and FEMA’s Neil McDevitt explain the test in American Sign language:

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FEMA's Dawn Hart provides key information about the test in Spanish:

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We've been actively engaged with our partners at the Federal Communications Commission, our state, tribal, territorial and local partners, the broadcast community, and other key stakeholders in getting ready for this test. We hope that you will help us spread the word about the Emergency Alert System test by sharing these videos on your websites – or with your communities.

Copy the above code or embed the video from our YouTube channel.

You can read our blog post when we first announced the EAS Test and visit the FCC website for more information about the test, including additional answers to some frequently asked questions.

Last Updated: 
06/02/2017 - 09:30


Not everyone listens to radio or watches tv. How will you direct a National EAS test towards people online ? Or even people who are outside gardening ?

I do not hear the NOAA tornado alarm coming from Cookeville, TN. No Radio. No TV How do you inform people working outside?

The government can't be all things for all people. How about we exercise a little common sense. I think it's great they are doing a test aimed at reaching 99% of America.

Why aren't you directing people to your own Nationwide EAS Test page?! /emergency/ipaws/eas_info.shtm

Carry a short wave radio, cell phone, ect. You can develop your own family call tree and emergency plan.

People complain about the plan for FEMA to be able to blast out to cell phones which is the best way to get more people who are not in front of a TV or listening to a radio. <br /><br />If you're online and FEMA has the ability to override security settings to display a message on your computer, people will complain about that as well. <br /><br />If you're not in the house and there is an alert, how do you want to be notified? I prefer the cell phone option and even wouldn't mind an **optional** setting to allow emergency alerts to bypass my settings on my computer in the event of a disaster. The problem is, too many people have this fear that the government is spying on them and will call anything beyond TV and radio broadcasts an invasion of privacy. Until those people realize that the government doesn't care what you're doing unless it's illegal, this is the best path.

What would you like them to do, drop flyers? Just as in any real scenario, they'll put information out to the public via any media possible. When something out of the ordinary happens (read: emergency/disaster) most people turn to the television, radio, or computer (news stations online) for infomration. Stop being so cynical.<br />This is something designed to help YOU. If you want to be informed, you have do your part. <br />Get a TV, a radio, or talk to your neighbor. Stop waiting for everyone else to do it for you. That attitude is why this country is in the shape that it is now.

I understand the need for the warning of the test but couldn't terrorist use this knowledge against us?

However daunting the task, each individual and certainly each head of family must consider their own strategy regarding disasters, the materials available and then act accordingly. <br /><br />You want to hang out on your computer all day in your basement..fine..but you might miss some things going on in the world.

Why does the potus need control of radio and television? If theres a national event everyone will know about it through the existing media already. Remember the last time a dictator controlled all radio and television?

Our county received a grant which then they installed many electrical sirens throughout the county that can give voice or toned messages.

A test this extensive and widespread should be done at 2AM NOT at 2PM! Seems more like a DEMONSTRATION of the POWER that the government holds over our daily, I am NOT a conspiracy theorist, but I have my doubts about this one!

FEMA, How about adding a few social media buttons to the blog stories, a like button, a plus button, and a twitter that would help spread the word...

how is this message implemented? through landline signal? Or through radio/satellite waves?

I think it's great. It'll be interesting to see how it works. Changes will have to be made and additional efforts will surely be necessary. That's how good systems are developed. We should have them more often.

If you are working outside, not near TV broadcast towers, or driving in your car there are ways to get information. The best way is to become a Ham Radio operator. You can get news and updates on situations most of the time right from the area in which the event is happening. No worries about cell tower coverage or minutes used. Local and Worlwide communications at your fingertips. You can also, with your Amature Radio license and equipment, help your community, local gorvernment and neighbors in an emergency when all else fails... Just a thought.

First of all, POTUS needs a way to quickly speak to the American public, and if taking over the radio waves to get the message out is the way to do it, so be it! That does not mean a dictatorship is forming. It also doesn't mean he is taking over radio and television. <br /><br />And for those that say, "what if we are outside?" Really?!?!?

Why is this test not including emergency weather alert radios that people have in there homes? It seems ridiculous to have this national test and to not include and activate these radios as well.

How can I opt out of this warning? Is there a DO NOT CALL list for this? Big brother, leave me alone.

i WANT to thank you FEMA for warning me of impending danger how ever the supplies needed to such a disaster will not be available for all ppl due to finances for what ever reason. How can the low income families prepare for such an event?

Cute idea... but an antiquated delivery...Who is watching TV or listening to the radio at 2PM? I don't even have a TV or radio. You guys definitely need to put your thinking caps on and come up with a multi-media method for 2012. Sponsor a trend on Twitter? Monopolize Facebook ads for 3 minutes? A top news alert on Google? Push notifications to smart phone users who have that functionality enabled?

Wouldn't it suck if the terrorist hit us at that exact time, and everyone thought it was just a test?

Oh my God! What is wrong with all of you people? What has this country come to? Get a clue. This is not Big Brother, or Govt Control, or socialism. It is a TEST OF AN EMERGENCY WARNING SYSTEM! If you want to make the system better, research to find out who the developers/maintainers of the system are and send them an email or letter. See the blog comment policy for where to direct your suggestions. Come on people.

@Kate: Good suggestions. Hopefully, FEMA is trying to come up with an answer to this dilemma. I am on my computer at work at that time, though in a real emergency, someone would see the alert and broadcast an email.<br /><br />@Anonymous(posted Nov 2, 2011 2:08:00 PM) - You can opt out. Turn off your TVs and radios at that time.

I am amazed at the ignorance of most of these responses. Although, I guess I really shouldn't be.

Is this coincidental that the "test" is the day after the IAEA releases its findings on Iran's nuclear activities?

WOW, too many people are negative. You must be younger. Growing up (and I'm not ancient) I recall having tests all the time. For those who say they don't have a tv/radio and complain about how they would be say you're on your computer - hmmm...what is the fastest medium we have today of getting info? You guessed it - computer. Trust me, if there is an emergency, I don't care who you are, your social or economic situation, you will know!! Get with the plan and support your government, and realize this is to help protect YOU and your families. Nuff said!

This is a great way to move forward with our EAS system and future expansion of this system. As one reader has already stated the government cannot be everything to everyone. Use some common sense. Many folks are forwarding bogus e-mails around concerning this test and most are just simply stupid. The conspirators, or as I refer to them people w/o a life, are floating things around that they have little or no knowledge of. This is nothing but a test in order to allow Federal/State, Tribal and Local officials to determine how to enhance the system for the future. Ed Kostiuk, Emergency Manager, Oklahoma State Dept. of Health

FEMA needs a website update and a few "share" buttons. And as far as developing a more modern system, twitter would probably be more effective than FEMA.

So, the President will have the ability to shut down all radio and TV??? This makes me very uneasy.

Sounds like the "Left Behind" books!

You know some of these people are right. They should be able to opt out of the warning system. That way if the government is trying to warn them of impending danger they won't hear about it. People thinking the government trying to test an Emergency System is a conspiracy are completely moronic. Those same people will expect FEMA assistance when disaster does hit and they weren't ready for it

There must be something fixing to happen there not telling us about till it happens.???

How about emergency online ? Most folks during the day are staring at a screen, but not a tv one. I never listen to radio and seldom have tv on before 7p. I do get emergency alerts in email, if I am on line from the weather folks. Well its the world we livein, just suck it up!

Internet is WORLDWIDE not just american

First of all, this is a test of the SYSTEM. It is not a test to see if they can reach any particular person. (Do you really think that YOU are that important?)<br /><br />Secondly, although it would be better to conduct all such tests at 3 or 4 in the morning, they are running it at 2PM Eastern in order to not disrupt so many lives. This is a lot better than my Cable Company, MediaCom who runs their weekly tests several times a week and, often, during Prime Time, the News or during Leno or Letterman. I've even seen them run 4 tests during a 3 hour period from 8PM to 11PM. Been doing that for the last 8 years and still can't seem to get it right. <br /><br />So chill out, people. You've got little to complain about. Wait till this time next year.

I read the FEMA report on why we are having the test. It sounds reasonable. What is not reasonable are the sites that have aliens and UFO's landing on November 9th at 2pm. Kooks, trying to scare people into thinking it is anything more than a test. Those who are looking for little green men under rocks, have never lived in tornado alley, or been in a hurricane. Get a life. It is a test. We need a better warning system.

Have watched the news and did not hear anyhting about this until someone on FB wrote a post about it. <br /><br />And all you folks complaining about "privacy" "conspiracy" you may be right and you may be wrong so just be grateful there's a system in place to warn you of an upcoming disaster.<br /><br />There are over 1 millions folks in Haiti who died and would've been alive had their goverment been capable of warning them of imminent danger. <br /><br />Americans have so much yet complain about everything...smh

I agree with people who understand, that this test is necessary for all - human beings and not just the US. But we are lucky to be part of American soil and this EAS test is being done for us by our government - to aid incase such emergency does arise. With this test, they can help the people in US and in other countries that have no such systems in place. I think the timing at 2pm is correct as they don't want to disrupt so many lives at 2am - mothers with children, elderly folks and so many others etc. <br /><br />So please everyone, don't be so cynical about your government running a test, and just help your country by being part of it. <br /><br />J

Someone suggested that running an alarm on TV and radio at 11am PST will reach 99% of the population. This doesn't sound right. Nobody that I know of, watches TV or listens to the radio at that time. Several readers of this blog suggested to use the Internet or the phone to broadcast the alarm. This would be a much more suitable tool for reaching people everywhere.

So what advantage does advance notice give anyone? Surely the test would be more meaningful without advance notice. I'm a little surprised the system has never had a nationwide test before. What criteria will define success or failure of the test? Huh? Huh? Huh? This blog has a lot of words, but very little interesting information.

I think an effective way of transmitting this National Alert would be through cellular communication with assistance from the government. The Majority of Americans have or have access to a cellphone(cellular communication device). it would seem practical to use that vessel as a way to ensure that everyone receive the message.

In my community we have sirens to alert us of bad weather. There are different tones for different events. Seems like these could be tied in for National Emergencies. That way people who don't always have their TV's on could also be alerted no matter where they are. Most everyone can hear the sirens.

That's STUPID! In case of emergency, what do I care what someone in Washington, DC has to say. They have no idea what is going on in my neighborhood. <br /><br />"Hello, this is the President, stay calm!" <br /><br />Big deal - no help there and no information

Maybe some people missed the point: This is a test of a system in its infancy. It is not meant to be 100% perfect or all-incusive. They want to work out the bugs, if any, and not unnecessarily scare people in the process, but apparently some people are so scared they can't even handle that!<br /><br />I was 4 years old in Melbourne, Florida when NASA was "secretley" launching missiles from a few miles away, many of which had to be destroyed after take off. Talk about scary! But that's part of what got us to the moon. And without the space program you wouldn't have your lovely little cell phones and internet.<br /><br />You're welcome.

you realize you are conducting the test AFTER the ASTEROID has already passed, LOL.

If there ever is a need for a nationwide alert; you are not going to care what percentage of the population is notified, as long as you can reach out and touch the ones you love.

So why did our government decide to have this test for the first time ever? There must be a reason why they are dong it. Kinda Scary.. They are getting us prepared for something thats about to happen soon. Something Big.What do you all think?

FEMA needs to produce some browser extensions and mobile applets.

Just wanted to say thanks to the folks at FEMA. There are many of us who do appreciate what you are trying to do. My family doesn't watch much TV but we will turn it on today so my kids will know what the warning is all about and as one more tool to help them feel confident in knowing what to do in an emergency. And it is true for many of us that even if we don't normally use TV/radio - media sources(including internet) are the first place we turn to for info in an emergency. Thank you.