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FEMA Testing Emergency Alert System Nationwide Today

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Federal Communications Commission will test the Emergency Alert System on TVs and radios nationwide and the Wireless Emergency Alerts on some cellphones. Both tests will start at 2:20 p.m. ET.

alert notification on smartphone
Shutterstock/Simone Hogan
(TNS) - The government will be testing emergency alerts on phones, televisions and radios across the country on Wednesday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Federal Communications Commission will test the Emergency Alert System on TVs and radios nationwide and the Wireless Emergency Alerts on some cellphones. Both tests will start at 2:20 p.m. ET on Aug. 11 .

During the EAS test, radios and TVs may be interrupted while the test message plays. The message will read in part "THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System ..." and is expected to last about a minute, FEMA says.

The national test will be similar to those sent out regularly by state officials, according to FEMA .

The WEA test will only go out on cellphones if users have opted in to receive emergency tests.

Instructions for how to opt in or opt out of the tests can be found here. Those who opt out of the tests will still receive real emergency alerts if their phone is compatible, FEMA says.

The test message sent to phones Wednesday will read "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed." It should only appear once.

Emergency alerts sent to phones include a "special tone," vibrations and a "special text message" to differentiate it from a regular notification, FEMA says. Real alerts go out in cases of extreme weather or other threats in the area, public safety messages, AMBER alerts and presidential alerts.

FEMA is required by law to conduct emergency alert tests at least once every three years.

"Testing will ensure an effective and reliable system exists to provide timely and accurate alerts to the public and provide information to help determine whether technological improvements are needed," FEMA says. "After each test, an after-action report and improvement plan is created and incorporated into future testing to ensure continual advancement of public alert and warning capabilities."

If Wednesday's test is canceled because of a widespread severe weather event or another significant emergency, it will be rescheduled for Aug. 25 .

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