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Emergency Alert System Test: One Month Away


Back in June, I blogged about the first national-level test of the Emergency Alert System that will take place on November 9 at 2 p.m. eastern. With the test now less than a month away, I wanted to put out a friendly reminder about what it means for you.

So here's an excerpt from my first blog post, with details about the test:

One of the most important communications tools that helps federal, state, local, territorial and tribal authorities issue emergency information and warnings to the public is the Emergency Alert System. This system is frequently used and tested at the local level, but to date it has never been tested on the national level. Chances are you have seen or heard the Emergency Alert System tested in your area many times, whether while watching your favorite TV show or listening to the radio.

What will people hear and see during the test?

On November 9, the public will hear a message indicating that “This is a test.” The audio message will be the same for both radio and television. However, the image on the screen and the text/crawl at the top of television screen may not be the same for all viewers. When the Emergency Alert System test is over, regular programming will resume.

How long will the test last?

We anticipate that the test will last approximately 3 minutes. While most messages, such as tsunami or hurricane warnings, are limited to two minutes by the emergency alert system, the Presidential message capability (which will be used in the national test) does not have a time limit. So to evaluate if the system properly interprets the Presidential message code in this test, the message duration must be longer than two minutes in length.

Since we first announced the test, 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 to make sure the word gets out about the upcoming test, and we'll continue to spread the word in the coming weeks. I encourage you to visit the FCC website for more information about the test, including answers to some frequently asked questions.

Last Updated: 
02/06/2017 - 09:31


What if there is a real life emergency on that day and you will need to do a real alert won't the public just think that it is a test then and just ignore it

If there was an actual emergency they will tell you it is not a test....As well as the words will say across the screen that it is an emergency....just like it does for tornadoes, hurricanes, other severe emergencies....

Anonymous Let us pray it is Far from it. If a Real Emergency is on that day the whole World will Know.<br /><br />2005 YU55 nov 8, 2011<br /><br />The Lord's Little Helper<br />Paul Felix Schott

People also ignore tornado sirens or evacuation orders. You can't save everyone.

How will the public be expected to respond? Will you tell us what kind of test it is so we can practice the proper response?<br />Nora

You know what this article makes me aware of? That when this test is going to happen, how many are going to be at work? With no TV and no radio? What about hooking up the cell and smart phones? And the phone systems? Because without smart phones, cell phones and work phones...I'd be in the basement and something could happen and not have a clue.

So, you are saying the President will be able to use Fema to prempt all broadcasting whenever he/she wishes in order to present us with any message the president desires? I have seen this in Cuba..nice modle. Very unsettling.

Why at 2pm and not 2am? Why now? We never had a national test during the cold war, but now there seems to be such a need. Are they prepping for something to happen in 2012?

How about cellphones? Everybody has one. Your system is outdated. Should require phone makes to install am/fm chip in every phone and automatically turn on during emergency

Will the Civil Defense Sirens also go off?

Really, you guys, this is no different than the air raid sirens that would go off during the Vietnam war, or the little beeps that go off at different times during the day. It's gonna be just fine.<br /><br />Don't read too much into it and yes, we did have national tests during the Cold War. Constantly. Just because you didn't notice it, that didn't mean it wasn't conducted.

The reason they don't do it for cell phones is a combination of reasons. Privacy concerns, do not call lists and the fact that taking up cell phones for any length of time could prevent people from calling 911 in the event they have an emergency at the same time. Also the cost to call all cell phones at the same time would be a truly staggering amount and overwhelm all cell towers.

will this include HBO Cinamax and all thosetype channels like lifetime