This Is Only A Test...

In the 1960s and 1970s, emergency signals broadcast over television and radio stations conjured up visions of nuclear attack. Today, those same warnings are more likely to mean that a severe weather condition is upon one's community. But the message is still the same: how people can get information about plans for their safety.

At 11 a.m. PST on Wednesday (2:00 p.m. EST), the entire United States will participate in the federal government's first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System. As residents watch television or listen to radio, they will hear the familiar "emergency tones" that will let them know what they could do in case there was an actual emergency. The test is expected to last up to 3½ minutes. During this period, regularly scheduled television, radio, cable, and satellite shows will be interrupted as the system is being tested.

The test is being conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as part of their ongoing efforts to keep the nation safe during emergencies and strengthen its resilience against all hazards.

The national Emergency Alert System is an alert and warning system that can be activated by the president, if needed, to provide information to 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 test is an important exercise in ensuring that the system is effective in communicating critical information to the public in the event of a real national emergency.

Similar to emergency alert system tests that are already conducted frequently on the local level, the nationwide test will involve television and radio stations across the U.S., including Alaska, Hawaii, and the territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

The exercise is also intended to encourage the public to use the event as a reminder that everyone should establish an emergency preparedness kit and emergency plan for themselves, their families, communities, and businesses.

Visit for more information about how to prepare for and stay informed about what to do in the event of an actual emergency.

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