Wireless Emergency Alert and Emergency Alert System Testing

October 2, 2023

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on Wednesday, October 4, 2023 at approximately 2:20 p.m. Eastern Time.

The EAS portion of the test will be sent to radios and televisions, and the WEA portion will be directed to all consumer cell phones. The test message will display in either English or Spanish, depending on the language settings of the wireless phone.  

The EAS and WEA testing aims to ensure that these systems continue to effectively warn the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level. FEMA and the FCC are coordinating with EAS participants, wireless providers, emergency managers, and other stakeholders in preparation for this national test to minimize confusion and maximize the public safety value of the test.

What to expect on cell phones during this test:

All wireless phones should receive the test message only once. You can expect your phone to vibrate and make an audible alert during the test.

  • Beginning at approximately 2:20 p.m. ET, cell towers will broadcast the test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, WEA-compatible wireless phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA should be capable of receiving the test message. 
  • Phones with the main menu set to English will display “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
  • Phones with the main menu set to Spanish will display: “ESTA ES UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia. No se necesita acción.”

WEA alerts are created and sent by authorized federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government agencies through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) to participating wireless providers, which deliver the alerts to compatible handsets in geo-targeted areas. To help ensure that these alerts are accessible to the entire public, including people with disabilities, the alerts are accompanied by a unique tone and vibration. 

What to expect on TVs and radios during this test:

  • The EAS portion of the test is scheduled to last approximately one minute. It will be conducted with the participation of radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers.
  • The test message will be similar to the regular monthly EAS test messages. It will state: “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering the United States from 14:20 to 14:50 hours ET. This is only a test. No action is required by the public.”

GW Specific Information:

In addition to FEMA’s WEA and EAS messaging, George Washington University’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) maintains emergency preparedness resources specific to the GW Community. These emergency preparedness resources can be found at safety.gwu.edu. From the Ready GW webpage, GW community members can manage their GW Alert account to receive GW text alerts to their mobile devices. For those who use mobile apps, the Ready GW webpage provides a link to download the GW Guardian App, which pushes GW emergency alerts directly to the app and features several other safety functions.