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The Emergency Alert System Has Been Tested – What Next?


By: Damon Penn, Assistant Administrator, National Continuity Programs

(Editor's note: updated 6:30pm EST)

After years of hard work with all of our partners, and months of providing updates on this blog, today, FEMA, the FCC, NOAA and communications service providers, and many others administered our first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System. We are currently collecting data about the initial results, and it will take the test’s participants several weeks to send us the full results of their tests.

As we have been explaining throughout this process, this initial test was the first time we have gotten a sense of the reach and scope of this technology. It was our opportunity to get a sense of what worked, what didn’t and additional improvements that need to be made to the system as we move forward. It’s only through comprehensively testing, analyzing, and improving these technologies that we can ensure the most effective and reliable emergency alert and warning systems available at a moment’s notice in a time of real national emergency.

This nationwide test served the purpose for which it was intended – to identify gaps and generate a comprehensive set of data to help strengthen our ability to communicate during real emergencies. Based on preliminary data, media outlets in large portions of the country successfully received the test message, but it wasn’t received by some viewers or listeners.

As we often say here at FEMA, we’re just one part of a much, much larger team. To prepare for this test FEMA worked closely with state and local officials, the broadcast community, as well as nongovernmental organizations including the disability and faith-based communities.

So now that the test has occurred, we know many of you may be wondering…what next?

Well, first, we’ll be spending the next few weeks gathering test result data from the test’s participants, and feedback from all of our stakeholders. Under the FCC’s rules, test participants have 45 days from the date of the test to analyze their data and provide a full report to the FCC on the scope and reach of the test. In the meantime, FEMA is also interested in hearing from any stakeholders who want to share feedback about how the test worked and ways we can continue to improve it. We encourage you to email us at with any tips, suggestions or input you may have.

And looking ahead, this test was just the beginning of our much larger efforts to strengthen and upgrade our nation’s public alert and warning system.

As we work to build a more modern system, we will continue to test the other newer technologies and communications tools that are also going to be part of our public alert and warning networks, such as cell phones, smart phones, the internet and social media networks.

So to all of our partners, including the public, we want to thank you for your role in helping make this test happen. We look forward to working with all of you to incorporate the lessons learned from this test as we keep working a robust, resilient, and fully accessible next generation alerting system that can provide timely and accurate alerts to the American people.

Last Updated: 
06/02/2017 - 09:29


it failed...

Lot of people posting that the test was a #fail

Next time maybe you could test it also on mobile devices as todays smartphones come pre equipped with the ability to receive emergency alerts and most people are never without their mobile phones. Just a thought.

3:58pm EST and the test is still going for both myself and my neighbors...<br /><br />-Verizon fios in Boston

It's good that someone rembember it, why not take this time to being it into the 21st century like added email, text or just call your cell phone.

I also e-mailed this:<br /><br />To whom it may concern:<br />We did receive the alerts from our radio tuned Monroe EAS box. However, the test included only one FIPS code (011001) that is the code for zip code 20001, Washington, DC. We do not have that code in our box to alert on. Shouldn’t the alert have contained the FIPS code of 000000 (United States)? I show that in our system to alert on for the entire US. Thanks

Had Background noises like more of the alert tone in the backgroud, while announcer was talking. Please fix this.

Well, if any of our enemies wanted to make sure that we American citizens could not communicate with each other or get reports on emergency situations, all they would have to do is conduct an emergency alert system test. It knocked out our Cable TV service and internet service until a couple of minutes ago (like 2 hours!) But did we expect anything different.. the definition of insanity???

I heard nothing about a test or the test itself in Arizona. Sorry - Fail

The alert did not appear on either WAMU 88.5FM (Washington, DC) nor the Weather Channel as carried on Comcast Cable Montgomery (MD), despite both media warning listeners/viewers that the test was about to occur, and that it had occurred. Regular programming continued on both WAMU and the Weather Channel.

I did not have the radio or TV on, but people are reporting it did not work. Is there going to be a comment on that?

I subscribe to the FEMA alerts via text message, but I did not receive any messages as a part of this test. I texted "prepare" once again to the FEMA number, and got a reply that I am indeed subscribed to receive alert texts. What gives?

Not very reassuring that the signal was not able to be broadcast here in Oregon!

Husband was watching cable tv at 2:00 and heard nothing. - Canton MI

As a UK citizen I can only say that I wish that we had this system here. I follow with interest on Facebook.

didn't come on the TV in our house- foster city california

in puerto rico was 40 seconds .EXCELLENT JOB

Needs, at a minimum, a Twitter component. Twitter already has the ability to drop advertising tweets into our timeline, so clearly the technology exists, such that they can add this to the "advertiser" list. Or, force every account to be a shadow-follower of the EAS system. Seems pretty obvious to me.

The test seemed to work okay on DirecTV... Lady Gaga was a nice touch, although I prefer Madonna during an emergency... :)

When the test commenced at 2:00 PM, we had the radio on at work. Just out of curiosity we went through the dial and the stations we normally get in all had the test broadcast. However, in between those stations it sounded like there was still talking going on, but it was hard to tell for sure as the signals were very week. We're in northern RI, so I doubt we could pick up any Canadian stations from where we are located and being inside an old brick mill building.

If I don't have a TV or radio how will I ever know. Many people only get their information on-line.

I monitored the EAS test on several frequencies.<br /> <br />WAIM Radio 1230 AM Anderson, South Carolina - Test signal started at 10 seconds past the hour. The voice message was somewhat garbled and made difficult to understand by the fact that the emergency tones continued to be broadcast over the voice message.<br /> <br />Sirius XM Satellite Radio - DID NOT broadcast any test message or tones on their channel #116<br /> <br />NOAA Weather Radio - WXJ-21 162.550 MHz Greenville, SC - This weather radio continued to transmit the local weather conditions. No EAS test was heard.<br /> <br />I hope this information is helpful to you.<br /><br />Michael B. Roland<br /> <br />Amateur Radio Operator - N9XY

Did FEMA send this test to any cell phones? Why not? People are not always sitting in front of the television.

I live in Albany OR. I had the radio on an fm Eugene (94.5) station at work and my wife and kids, at home, had the TV on (a FOX affiliate, non-cable)channel. No test signal ever came over the radio or TV. It should have happened at 11 am PST, and it did not.

I monitored a TV Station, Radio Station and an Internet Radio Station. The Local Radio station had only some tones for a couple of seconds. It then went immediately back to music. The TV station finally had a test screen about 4 to 5 minutes after the test was supposed to begin, it was on no longer than a minute. The internet radio station from NewYork, NY (WXRK) had NO/NO test. <br /><br />To me this was evidence of a system that currently can not be depended on. Are Internet Radio stations exempt from this testing? Many people now receive their Radio Stations through the Internet. What about Text Messages on Cell Phones? Satellite Radio? You've got a long way to go to correct this. You need to enforce these tests as a first step as I feel with the poor results I saw that stations are not ensuring their equipment is active and functioning. This is the first step FEMA/the Government needs to do. If broadcast stations are disregarding this and feel they don' need to worry about ensuring this equipment is in place and working and that they won't suffer some consequence from (The FCC) then they'll just continue to disregard it. <br />(From a retired Federal Communications Employee)

Test seen at about 1303 CST on WISN channel 12 out of Milwaukee on Direct TV. Seemed shorter than the 30 seconds expected. Aural signal received. Visual TEST graphic in place. Southeast Wisconsin got the message.

I saw the national EAS test on a cable channel in Arlington, Va. I did not get such an alert on my NOAA weather alert radio. It is always set to come on for any alerts for my area. Were these devices left out of the test?

If it ran it did not run in Sapulpa, OK...neither my tv nor my radio was interrupted and never any sign of a national emergency, I don't think it worked in our area.

Indianapolis, Indiana 46203<br />I have Brighthouse Cable and run it on 2 televisions in the house. The tv in the bedroom was on at the time the test started and showed the Emergency Test but the tv in the living room did not even when tuned to the same station as the bedroom tv....The tv in the living room was not on at exactly 2pm, when the test started my boyfriend told me to turn on the living room tv but none of the channels had the test on.

I have sirius satelite radio and it did not work. At 2pm eastern time my radio went silent for about 15 seconds, I heard nothing, and then the miusic returned. Sorry people, but it did not work on my satelite radio. I live in eastern Pennsylvania.

WHWC 88.3 in Eau Claire Wisconsin had the computer tones but there was no message with it.

Fail in Alabama

I was waiting for the alert on Fox New. A little after 1pm CST my station switched to the QVC station on it's alert

Did not come on DISH TV here in NE North Carolina. Called the local news channel and she told me it went fine?? Told her I didn't see it or hear it (was on FOX NEWS for a minute)even was announced by Meghan on FOX NEWS, then NOTHING continued programming. Just a note if DISH TV was picking up the signal?

NOAA was not participating in the EAN TEST

I am subscribed to your E-Mail, but did not receive one during the test?????

Tie the alerts in with local siren systems, which in Kansas would be tornado sirens. Then those who are not tied to technology for whatever reason would know to find out what is going on.

I am from Grand Rapids, MI and while I was at my local community college I did not hear anything about an Emergency Alert Test being tested. I would say it totally failed to let a whole community college aware of an emergency.

Granted, some people received the signal, some people didn't. Now we know where we stand, as opposed to assuming that the system worked or didn't work. Now that the bugs in the system have been found, have one final "announced" test followed by an un-announced test... which reflects emergency situations. To echo FEMA's statement and others responses prior to this one, newer technology would help.<br />This brings up another question: if the federal partners do use internet/satellite/cellphone/twitter to reach every human being in these United States for a complete alert, will people balk at how big brother is all over one's private space?<br />Can you have it both ways?<br /><br />E. Davis Mahwah, NJ

NOAA was most certainly participating. read the first sentence of this post:<br /><br />After years of hard work with all of our partners, and months of providing updates on this blog, today, FEMA, the FCC, NOAA and communications service providers, and many others administered our first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System.

In this age of instantaneous, multimedia communication, why do we need a system whereby the federal government preempts all television programming?

I have Time Warner cable serving Sun Valley CA<br />At 11 the test wentfrom reg programming to QVC selling Christmas decorations(always dose this) If it had been an emergency we cannot get any channel until the cable company lets us . The so called test went on for 25 minutes. The winner QVC and possible sales.

Was watching Nickelodeon (Comcast) in Richmond IN - saw the warning banner at the bottom of the screen toward the end of the hour (before 2 pm) and also someone did an announcement earlier about it (some guy in a suit). But at 2 pm EST - absolutely nothing happened, programming continued as usual. I was watching at least until about 2:40 pm and also checked it around 3 pm in case the time change didn't kick in.... Still nada, just the regular programming. Don't know how many adults usually are watching Nickelodeon at the hour, though ! :)

Not a single call letter station in NW Ohio received the alert.

Didnt work too well. Not even one second on the TV. I saw a flash but couldnt even read what it said ! BTW...I have Dish Network.<br />Need more practice guys !!

Much background noise made the announcer hard to hear in Mid MO But we did get the notice, can't remember which channel we were on.

Local weather radio did not respond to test, maybe due to not being programmed for that type of warning. Needs to have an override in the software that would allow all areas and all types of programmed warnings to allow this sort of emergency warning to take over the radio. Worked fine on Insight Cable TV and local radio.<br />Lexington, KY

That was a really messy test, but as indicated, it was the first time it has been ever tested. I went thru a dozen radio stations programmed in my car radio, really only had one a could undetstand, but all the others I heard the tones coming across again and again while the voice message was being played and was barely understood. Some I couldn't even hear at all. They have a long, long way to go to get this working right. If they are going to rely on it, hope that money isn't an issue, because if it is, "We The People" are "Hosed" in the even of a real emergency !!! It should have been done on the NWS as well since they did shorten the time of the message from 3 minutes to 30 seconds. No excuse why they didn't since I was told thats why they couldn't, because the SAME system can only hold up to 2 minutes...

Was there supposed to be another test tonight, because my TV has been frozen on a blue screen stating "This is a test of the Emergency Alert System" for over 30 minutes now. No sound, and all my cable channels are working. This is only an issue on the main network channels...

I was montoring Dish satellite channels Encore Westerns and Sirious Music channel 6005 along with a local Akron FM station and TV Channel 5 WEWS in Cleveland. The first to respond to the test was the local FM station at about 2PM, Channel 5 in Cleveland responded next with the EAS test banner and the audio of the test. The banner remained on the screen for 4 1/2 minutes with the audio of the test repeated 3 times. I saw NO EAS warning on either of the Dish satellite stations. As some of you said, more work has to be done on the alert system.<br />__________________