First FCC/FEMA Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal
Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) are planning the first
Emergency Alert System (EAS) nationwide test, which will take place
at 2:00 PM (EST),
Wednesday, November 9, 2011. The test will last approximately
three (3) minutes. Normal programming will return following the
- FCC and FEMA are conducting a public relations campaign
utilizing print, broadcast, and other media to prepare the public
for the test and the fact that a “live” alert code is being used. If
you are part of an organization, below is a draft article that could
be used for use in your group’s newsletters, telephone trees, blogs,
meeting announcements, or any other way your group uses to
communicate important information.
- The November 9
test will utilize a “live” national alert code,
i.e., a coded
message that will make it appear as an actual emergency
announcement, not a test. This is necessary in order to allow FCC
and FEMA to test the actual working order of EAS equipment and the
state of readiness of EAS operators and participants.
- An audio message will precede the alert message announcing that
the exercise is a Test Only. Other information will be broadcast
after the test concludes.
- Additional information about the test is available at the FCC’s
TV EMERGENCY MESSAGE
ON NOVEMBER 9, 2011
IS ONLY A TEST!
YOU DO NOT NEED TO
ONLY A TEST.
On November 9, 2011, at 2 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST), the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) will conduct the first-ever nationwide test
of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). At that time, an announcement
will come on every TV and radio channel indicating that there is an
emergency. This is only a test! Please do not be alarmed when you
see this test. You do not need to take any action.
The purpose of this test is to assess how well the EAS can alert
the public about dangers to life and property during certain national
emergencies. Although the FCC and FEMA are taking steps to ensure that
everyone has access to the announcements made during the test, some
people watching cable television (as well as some others) may only
receive an audio (not a visual) notice that this is a test. Both
agencies are now working to ensure that you are aware of the test so
that you understand that this is not a real emergency.
What is the EAS? EAS alerts are sent over the radio or
television (broadcast, cable and satellite). State and local emergency
managers use these alerts to notify the public about emergencies and
weather events, such as tornadoes and hurricanes. EAS can also be used
to send an alert across the United States in the case of a national
emergency. It is common for state and local EAS tests to occur on a
weekly and monthly basis. But there has never been a test of the
nationwide system on all broadcast, cable, satellite radio and
television systems at the same time.
The purpose of the
November 9th test is to see how EAS would work in
case public safety officials ever need to send an alert or warning to
a large region of the United States. If a major disaster such as an
earthquake or tsunami occurs, EAS could be used to send life-saving
information to the public.
What will be different about
this EAS test? The nationwide test conducted
on November 9th
may be similar to other EAS tests that you may have seen in the past.
These have an audio EAS tone and a message indicating “This is a test
of the Emergency Alerting System.” But this nationwide test will last
a little longer: around 3 minutes. In addition, due to some technical
limitations, a visual message indicating that “this is a test”
may not pop up on every TV channel, especially where people use cable
to receive their television stations. For these reasons, the FCC and
FEMA are taking extra steps to educate the public, especially people
with hearing disabilities, that this is only a test.
For more information about how this EAS test may affect you, please
Michael Barrick, CFI, FPSS,
Assistant State Fire Marshal
WV State Fire Marshal's Office