Why your cellphone will go off with an ’emergency alert’ Wednesday

At 1:20 p.m. CT, you can expect your cell phone to buzz with an alert, thanks to a test of the emergency alert system from the FCC and FEMA.

According to a press release, the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday, October 4 will conduct a nationwide test of the country’s Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert System (WEA).

The national test will be executed in two portions, officials said. One will be sent to all televisions and radios, the release said, and the other will be sent to all consumer cellphones.

Both messages are set to occur at 1:20 p.m. CT., according to the release.

The reason for the Oct. 4 test is to “ensure that the systems continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level,” the release said. Should the test be postponed due to severe weather or other significant events, the back-up testing date is Oct. 11, the release added.

According the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, the FCC and FEMA are coordinating with EAS participants, wireless providers and other emergency managers in preparation for the test “to minimize confusion and to maximize the public safety value of the test.”

The WEA test message will be sent to phones only once, officials said, with cell towers scheduled to 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 whose wireless provider participates in WEA, should be capable of receiving the test message,” the release said.

According to officials, the message will be accompanied by a “unique tone and vibration.”

Here’s what the test message will say on cell phones, according to the release.

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

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