Emergency alert test will be sent to some phones Wednesday afternoon

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IPAWS National Test (Credit: FEMA)

DENVER (KDVR) — Be prepared for a cacophony of sound early Wednesday afternoon when a national test of the nation’s emergency alert system is conducted.

The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) is used to warn people of severe weather, endangered children and public safety risks like active shooters.

IPAWS has two components, according to FEMA, the organization that manages the system. The first is called the Emergency Alert System or EAS; it’s the one you’re used to seeing on TV or hearing on radio during monthly testing. The second is called Wireless Emergency Alerts or WEA; this pings your cell phone when you’re in an area with a tornado warning or AMBER Alert.

Because this is only a test, the WEA alert will only be sent to phones that have opted in. On several Android and IOS devices that we checked, test alerts appeared to be off by default.

The test is set to take place between 12:20-12:50 p.m., but if there is widespread severe weather, it will be postponed to its backup date of Aug. 25.

This test has been planned since June 2020 and is designed to test the effectiveness of the overall system.

On TV and radio, there will be an audio portion saying: “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 Communications 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.” 

TV will also have a text portion that will say: “A Primary Entry Point system has issued a National Periodic Test for all of the United States beginning at 2:20 PM and ending at 2:50 PM on AUG 11, 2021 (station ID).”

Phones will receive a message saying: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

Information from this test will be used to improve the IPAWS moving forward.

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