FIRST NATIONWIDE TEST OF THE EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM
The first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) will occur next Wednesday, November 9, 2011, at 2 p.m. eastern standard time. (11 a.m. PST) While the EAS is frequently used by state and local governments to send weather alerts and other emergencies, there has never been a national activation of the system. During a catastrophic emergency or widespread communications outage, this is how the President would address the nation.
Although the national EAS test may resemble the periodic EAS tests that most Americans are familiar with, there will be differences in what people will see and hear. During the test, listeners will hear a message indicating that “This is a test.” However, the video test message scroll may not be the same nor use the words “This is a test.” Extensive outreach has been made to 911 call centers, limited English communities and deaf and hard of hearing communities to provide assurance that this is a test, not an actual emergency.
EAS participants include all broadcasters, satellite and digital radio and television, cable television, and wireline video providers. Future testing of the EAS will assess the effectiveness and reliability of other technologies to achieve the ultimate goal of timely alert and warning to the American public in the preservation of life and property. Two videos (English version includes ASL inset) about the upcoming test are available on the FEMA Blog.
FEMA has Tweets and Facebook posts ready to launch as a reminder of the upcoming test. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate will also make the rounds on the morning news programs next Wednesday.
Other useful links:
- King County OEM’s web page : http://www.kingcounty.gov/safety/prepare/NationalEAS.aspx
- Sample public service announcements (Federal Communications Commission) that have been airing since October: Emergency Alert System Nationwide Test: November 9, 2011
- Frequently Asked Questions (FEMA): http://www.fema.gov/emergency/ipaws/eas_info.shtm#3
Update: Next week’s test will last approximately 30 seconds, not up to three minutes as stated previously. The decision was made yesterday to test linkages of the system, not sustainability for longer time periods.