FEMA, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and radio and television Emergency Alert System (EAS) participants, will conduct a nationwide test of EAS beginning at 2:20 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, August 7th, 2019. A backup date is scheduled for Wednesday, August 21st, 2019, if needed. The test, which uses IPAWS, is a key way to assess the operational readiness of the Nation’s alert and warning infrastructures for distribution of a national message and determine whether technological improvements are warranted.
Public safety officials need to be sure that they are able to get urgent, life-saving alerts to the public in times of an emergency or disaster. This year’s test will evaluate the readiness of our national alerting capability in the absence of internet connectivity, focusing on the capability of EAS radio and television providers to distribute a test message nationwide.
The 2019 IPAWS National Test of EAS will broadcast a test message that is approximately one minute long. Broadcast radio and television, cable, wireline service providers, and direct broadcast satellite service providers will each broadcast the test message once within a few minutes of the test. The national EAS test message will look and sound very much like the regular Required Monthly Test messages broadcast by all EAS participants.
This will be the first time since the adoption of the National Periodic Test (NPT) EAS Event Code that FEMA has conducted a nationwide EAS test using the NPT code and initiation of the test message from the National Public Warning System component of IPAWS.
The EAS test message is expected to have limited impact on the public with only a minor interruption to regular radio and television programs. The EAS test message will be: “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 Communication 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. No action is required.”
The FCC requires all EAS Participants – that is, radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers – to participate in this test and collects data through the EAS Test Reporting System.
The FEMA IPAWS program continues to examine how to make the test message and all alert and warning messages more accessible to those with access and functional needs, and with limited English proficiency. Due to technical limitations of the aural only over-the-air EAS relay that will be used for this year’s test, there will be no supporting English or Spanish full message text display on television screens.
Please contact the IPAWS Program Management Office at IPAWS@fema.dhs.gov if you have any questions.