FEMA plans to test emergency alert system nationwide on Wednesday

FEMA and the FCC will send out messages that may disrupt programming on Wednesday afternoon

Sheila Flynn
In Denver, Colorado
Wednesday 11 August 2021 18:22
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The government will test its national alert system on Wednesday, so residents should expect messages or programme disruptions, two federal agencies said.

The test will be carried out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Messages may be delivered during the afternoon in either English or Spanish.

“The nationwide test will provide FEMA with valuable information on the effectiveness of sending emergency warnings via the public alert and warning system in event of disaster,” the agency said.

Similar tests were conducted in 2018 and 2019 but none have occurred since the beginning of the pandemic.

The alerts, with their hard-to-miss, high-pitched buzz, will be sent around 2.20pm (Eastern Standard Time) to TVs, radios and cell phone subscribers who have opted into the messages.

The US government typically utilises the messages in the event of hurricanes, floods, natural disasters or other major emergencies.

The system has previously gone awry, however, with residents of Hawaii in 2018 receiving erroneous alerts about an incoming ballistic missile that sent the state into a panic - only for the “this is not a drill” message to be cancelled minutes later.

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