A graphic with a message about the national emergency alert test on October 4.Source: Wisconsin Emergency Management

National tests of emergency broadcast alerts to happen Wednesday

October 04, 2023 9:44 AM

In Wisconsin, the tests are scheduled for 1:20 p.m. central time.

By: Jimmie Kaska

(CIVIC MEDIA) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency is testing the national Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts Wednesday.

In Wisconsin, the tests are scheduled for 1:20 p.m. central time.

The alerts will go out on radio and television, as well as mobile devices, and will display in English or Spanish depending on the language settings of the device.

Any cell phones that are on when the test happens will see a message that reads, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” Phones with the main menu set to Spanish will display: “ESTA ES UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia.  No se necesita acción.” An alert tone will sound once your phone receives the notification.

If your phone is off before the test and isn’t turned back on until about 30 minutes after the alert is sent, it won’t receive the alert. Law enforcement agencies and advocates for victims of domestic violence have been promoting safety in regards to the national alerts, advising people who keep secret phones to leave them off during the test and to turn them on only when it’s safe to do so.

The radio and TV broadcast version of the test will last one minute. The message will read, “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering the United States from 14:20 to 14:50 hours ET. This is only a test. No action is required by the public.”

You can read more about the tests on the FEMA website.

Wisconsin Emergency Management says there is no cost to the people receiving the message. Anyone who opted out of previous emergency alerts, such as AMBER Alerts, will receive this message if they are in cell service range. After the test, a survey will be done to check on the geographic reach of the test.

WEM also says mobile devices can be configured to turn on and off certain emergency alerts. You can learn more about that, as well as what types of messages are sent via the WEA, on the ReadyWisconsin website.

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