FEMA, in coordination with the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) and radio and television Emergency Alert
System (EAS) participants, will conduct a nationwide test of EAS beginning
at 2:20 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, August 7th, 2019. A backup date is scheduled for
Wednesday, August 21st, 2019, if needed. The test, which uses IPAWS,
is a key way to assess the operational readiness of the Nation’s alert and
warning infrastructures for distribution of a national message and determine
whether technological improvements are warranted.
Public safety officials need to be sure that
they are able to get urgent, life-saving alerts to the public in times of an
emergency or disaster. This year’s test will evaluate the readiness of our
national alerting capability in the absence of internet connectivity, focusing
on the capability of EAS radio and television providers to distribute a
test message nationwide.
The 2019 IPAWS National Test of EAS will
broadcast a test message that is approximately one minute long. Broadcast radio
and television, cable, wireline service providers, and direct broadcast satellite
service providers will each broadcast the test message once within a few
minutes of the test. The national EAS test message will look and sound very
much like the regular Required Monthly Test messages broadcast by all EAS
This will be the first time since the
adoption of the National Periodic Test (NPT) EAS Event Code that FEMA has
conducted a nationwide EAS test using the NPT code and initiation of the test
message from the National Public Warning System component of IPAWS.
The EAS test message is expected to have
limited impact on the public with only a minor interruption to regular radio
and television programs. The EAS test message will be: “THIS IS A TEST of the National
Emergency Alert System. This system was developed by broadcast and cable
operators in voluntary cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management
Agency, the Federal Communication Commission, and local authorities to keep you
informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency an
official message would have followed the tone alert, you heard at the start of
this message. No action is required."
The FCC requires all EAS Participants – that
is, radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and
television providers, and wireline video providers – to participate in this
test and collects data through the EAS Test Reporting System.
The FEMA IPAWS program continues to examine
how to make the test message and all alert and warning messages more accessible
to those with access and functional needs, and with limited English
proficiency. Due to technical limitations of the aural only over-the-air EAS
relay that will be used for this year’s test, there will be no supporting
English or Spanish full message text display on television screens.