First Nationwide Test of Emergency Alert System is Today

November 9, 2011

The first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, or EAS, will take place at 1p.m. – Central Standard Time – today.

The purpose of the test is to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the system in alerting the public.

The Emergency Alert System is a media communications-based alerting system that is designed to transmit emergency alerts and warnings to the American public at the national, tribal, state and local levels.

EAS participants broadcast alerts and warnings regarding weather threats, child abductions and other types of emergencies. EAS alerts are transmitted over television and radio broadcast, satellite television and satellite radio, cable television and wireline video services.

Although local and state components of the EAS are tested on a weekly and monthly basis, there has never been an end-to-end nationwide test of the system.

During the test, the public will hear a message indicating “this is a test.”

The audio message will be the same for everyone, however due to limitations of the EAS, the video test message may not be the same and may not indicate “this is a test”. This is due to the use of a “live” national code – the same code that would be used in an actual emergency.

Also, the background image that appears on video screens may indicate “this is a test” but in some cases there may be no image at all. FEMA and the FCC plan to reach out to organizations representing people with hearing disabilities to prepare that community for the national test.

In addition, FEMA and the FCC will work with EAS participants to explore whether there are solutions to address this limitation.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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