if you get an emergency alert on your cellphone at around 12:20 p.m. [Mountain Time] today, don't panic.

Likewise, if you see or hear an alert via radio or television at about that same time, don't go into emergency mode.

In both cases, it's only a test.

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That's because the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Federal Communications Commission are planning a national test of the Emergency Alert System [EAS] and Wireless Emergency Alerts [WEA].

The WEA test will be directed to all consumer cell phones. The test message will display in either English or Spanish, depending on the cellphone settings. The EAS will go out to radios and televisions.

According to a FEMA new release, in regard to cell phones:

  • Beginning at approximately 2:20 p.m. ET, cell towers will broadcast the test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, WEA-compatible wireless phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and in a geographic area where the wireless provider participates in WEA, should be capable of receiving the test message. 
  • For consumers, the message that appears on their phones will read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

2:20 p.m. Eastern Time is 12:20 p.m. Mountain Time.

Here are the details on the EAS tes for radio and tv stations  according to FEMA:

  • The EAS portion of the test is scheduled to last approximately one minute and will be conducted with the participation of radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers and wireline video providers.
  • The test message will be similar to the regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar. It will state: “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering the United States from 14:20 to 14:50 hours ET. This is only a test. No action is required by the public.

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