There Will Be a Huge Test of the Emergency Broadcast System on October 4


Sep. 21 2023, Published 11:58 a.m. ET

Man looking at his phone concerned.
Source: Getty Images

The Gist:

  • There will be a nationwide test of the emergency alert system on October 4.
  • The alert will be broadcast to all TVs, radios, and cell phones across the country, and will be accompanied by a message alerting users that this is just a test.
  • The test is designed to ensure that a real alert can be sent in the event of a national emergency.
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Anyone who is connected to the world and has a TV or phone is likely aware of the emergency broadcasting system. The system is designed to warn you about regional or national emergencies that could range from a major storm to some other dangerous situation. The system is supposed to make sure that people can get to safety, but in order to ensure the system works, sometimes, a test is required.

People online are nervous following rumors that a test will take place on October 4, which has led many to wonder what exactly that day will bring, and whether they'll be ready for it.

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An triangular alert symbol with clouds in the background.
Source: Getty Images

What is happening on October 4?

On October 4, there will be a massive, coordinated test of the emergency alert system across TVs, radios, and cell phones. The test is set to occur at 2:20 pm ET, and should be accompanied by a somewhat jarring, electronic noise that is designed to bring you to alert.

The noise will be accompanied by a message that should be familiar to anyone who has heard or read these types of alerts before.

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“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," the message will say.

This test is happening to ensure that the system is ready in the event of a real widespread national emergency or attack.

These kinds of tests are particularly important in the aftermath of events like the wildfires in Maui, when it was determined that the emergency sirens did not sound properly, causing more destruction and devastation than the fires might have led to otherwise.

The exact wording of the test has not been released yet, but on cell phones, it will come as a text message badge that reads: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

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Source: YouTube

The message will also be delivered in Spanish to phones where the main menu is also in Spanish.

“ESTA ES UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia. No se necesita acción," will be the message in Spanish.

The test is only set to last for a single minute, and there aren't supposed to be any repeats of the warning after that first alarm sounds.

The test will mean that there will be a temporary blackout of all devices in the US, and while that news is alarming to some because it will be an interruption, it's easy to see why the system needs to be tested regularly to ensure that we're ready for a serious emergency.

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