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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nationwide test of Emergency Alert System scheduled for Nov. 9

Posted: November 1, 2011 - 3:09pm
Updated: November 9, 2011 - 5:30am

For the first time ever, a full-scale, nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System will be conducted to help ensure that the system works as intended in the event of a major disaster. The Emergency Alert System has been in place since the 1950's, the November 9th test will mark the first time the system has been utilized at the same time nationwide.

The test is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 9. At that time, radio stations, local television stations, wireline video services, and cable and satellite providers in the Kansas City metropolitan area will join other broadcasters across the country for a simultaneous test of the system.

The EAS is a national alert and warning system established to enable the President of the United States to address the American public during emergencies.  NOAA's National Weather Service, governors and state and local emergency authorities also use parts of the system to issue more localized emergency alerts. 

"The upcoming national test is critical to ensuring that the EAS works as designed," said Jamie Barnett, Chief of the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.  "As recent disasters here at home and in Japan have reminded us, a reliable and effective emergency alert and warning system is key to ensuring the public's safety during times of emergency.  We look forward to working with FEMA in preparation for this important test."

Over the past two years and as part of ongoing national preparedness planning efforts, FEMA, the FCC and other federal partners, state, local, tribal and territorial governments, Emergency Alert System participants and other stakeholders have been working toward making this test a reality. 

While the test will be similar to the routine monthly tests most citizens are familiar with, there will be a few key differences:

·         The nationwide test will last longer than normal – approximately three minutes.
·         While the audio message will be the same for everyone and include the words, “This is a test,” the video test may vary due to differing technologies. Viewers should be aware that the video messages may or may not include the words, “This is a test” in the background image or scroll at the bottom of the screen.
·         The test will be conducted ONLY through broadcast media (Television & Radio). It WILL NOT include NOAA weather radios, mobile devices or outdoor warning sirens.

The nationwide test will be conducted jointly by the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Communications Commission and National Weather Service. These agencies selected Nov. 9 for the test because it is near the end of hurricane season and before the severe winter weather season begins.

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