A nationwide test of the federal emergency warning system is planned for today, October 4th. This is the seventh such test in United States history.
The test is scheduled for early afternoon in most US time zones and will affect all wireless cell phones, televisions and radios to ensure our warning systems remain effective. Expect a surprise message to hit your devices at 2:20 p.m. ET (1:20 p.m. CT, 12:20 p.m. MT, 11:20 p.m. PT) and in Alaska and Hawaii at 10:20 a.m. and 8:20 a.m., respectively appears.
Why will there be a national emergency alert test on October 4, 2023?
The test does not require public intervention as it is purely for maintenance purposes. Our emergency preparedness, like everything else, requires sustaining, and this is just one way the government is ensuring the public is ready – should something happen.
It is also not the first test of its kind. We have already conducted similar tests six times between 2011 and 2021, and more will follow in the future, likely adding new devices as the technology develops.
When was the last emergency alarm test?
It may seem like a strange concept, but almost everyone who owns a cell phone has already undergone an emergency alert system test. The last one occurred just a few years ago, on August 11, 2021. Since it began in 2011, it has continued every two years, so we should expect the next one to follow in the fall of 2025.
The test will take approximately 30 minutes in total, but each device should only receive a short notification. On wireless devices, which are likely to be the dominant devices, users should expect a simple text message saying “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System.” There is no need for action.”
The test doesn’t interrupt your phone calls or cancel meetings – it’s just to make sure everything is working as expected. The minor disruption will barely be visible on most people’s radar screens, but maintaining our emergency warning systems is critical and could easily save lives one day.