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Don’t panic: FCC and FEMA set date for emergency alert test next month

Published Sep 10th, 2023 9:02AM EDT
emergency alert illustration
Image: YoGinta / Adobe

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Everyone in the US should mark October 4 on their calendars, as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will carry out a nationwide emergency alert test across multiple phones and television sets.

The test will take place at 2:20 p.m. ET on October 4, and it will trigger on any devices with the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) active on them. That means it is possible your phone or television will begin blaring the alert at the aforementioned time, so it’s definitely something to keep in mind so you don’t panic when it happens.

The point of this emergency alert test is to ensure that both systems are working as intended so that they can release alerts to the general public in the event of an actual nationwide emergency. If the test goes according to plan, the alert will be pushed out across televisions, radios, and phones. It’s important to know that it won’t just affect smartphones, either. Landlines will also receive the alert.

alert notificationImage source: penguiiin / Adobe

If, for any reason, the October 4 event is delayed, FEMA and the FCC will complete a backup test that is scheduled for October 11. No exact time has been provided for that particular test. 

This is only the second time that phones have been included in a nationwide alert test. It will also be accompanied by a “unique attention signal and vibration.” The FCC says this will make it very clear that this is a nationwide alert so that it cannot be confused with any other type of alert that might come through your phone or television.

The FCC’s emergency alert test will last for roughly one minute, and they won’t be able to be blocked like some other warnings that you can block on your device, like Ambert alerts.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.