VIDEO: Erin Mossup, OEM Alert and Warning Coordinator, discusses the use of emergency alerts
In 4th of OctoberThe Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will test Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and the Emergency Alert System (EAS).
The alerts, scheduled for 2:20 pm EST that Wednesdaywill send messages to the public via cell phones as well as radio and television broadcasts.
Learn more about FEMA testing your Press release
Telephone alerts will be sent to WEA-compatible mobile devices from wireless service providers participating in FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). CTIA, a wireless trade association, publishes WEA compatible phone lists offered by the largest wireless service providers.
A WEA alert appears on the recipient’s phone screen as a text-like message. The alert is accompanied by a unique attention signal and vibration, which is especially useful for people with hearing or visual impairments.
The EAS portion of the test is scheduled to last approximately one minute. The test message will be similar to the usual monthly EAS test messages that the public is familiar with. It will say: “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering the United States from 2:20 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. ET. This is just a test. “No action is required from the public.”
WEA and EAS messages are part of the federal IPAWS program, a national local warning system that provides the public with authenticated emergency and lifesaving information.
Wireless emergency alerts are sent via mobile phones. Authorized national, state or local authorities, such as our office, may target them geographically via cell towers, such as text messaging. You may receive a message for a period after it is sent if you travel to a location that has a specific message or if your phone restarts.
Information from the Emergency Alert System is transmitted by radio, television and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Meteorological Radio.
How we use it
It is not just FEMA that can send critical information through the WEA or EAS system. You might think about Amber Alerts for missing children, weather warnings from the National Weather Service, or the life safety information we send to the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management.
These messages are reserved for the most emergent situations and are only delivered during an urgent situation when protective action, such as evacuation or shelter in place, is needed for a wide area during the most critical life safety emergencies.
Brief messages will alert you to the problem, direct you to personal safety information, or where to find more information.
WEA messages are currently available in English and Spanish. To receive messages in Spanish, you must choose your preferred language in your phone settings.
Participating wireless carriers may offer subscribers with WEA-compatible phones the ability to block alerts involving imminent threats to life safety and/or AMBER Alerts. Consumers cannot block National Alerts.
While it is important to receive credible and critical information from authorities, it may also be important to silence alerts during the test.
According to the Federal Communications Commission, to receive a WEA message, your wireless phone or mobile device must be WEA-compatible, turned on, and nearby and served by a cell tower from a wireless carrier that participates in WEA. You may opt out of receiving WEA messages other than Presidential messages. To opt out, please adjust your mobile device settings. (Note: Wireless subscribers do not participate in State/Local WEA testing by default; to receive State/Local WEA testing messages, you must affirmatively participate.)
If you turn off vibration or sound on your WEA-enabled device, you may not feel the vibration or hear the attention signal of a WEA message.
More information can be found on the FCC website. website.
Not receiving a WEA?
The FCC says that to receive a WEA message, your phone must be WEA compatible, be turned on, not in “airplane mode,” and be near and served by a cell tower from a wireless carrier that participates in WEA.
Some participating carriers may offer WEA on some, but not all, of their mobile devices. Consumers should check with their wireless service providers to see if their cell phone supports WEA.
Don’t forget to stay prepared and informed about times and incidents that do not require a WEA notification. You can do this by registering at ReadyPhiladelphia, the City of Philadelphia’s notification system that provides you with emergency information. Simply text ReadyPhila to 888-777 or visit www.phila.gov/ready to customize email or phone alerts.
Information from the Federal Communications Commission