Every working cellphone in the United States will vibrate and ring out an emergency tone at 2:20 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, in a massive test of the Emergency Alert System. Televisions and radios will also get emergency alert broadcasts at the same time.
This event marks the seventh nationwide test for the Emergency Alert System since its inauguration in November 2011, but just the second to be sent to all cellphones.
Recipients of the test on mobile devices will be greeted with: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” The notifications will come with a distinctive tone and vibration. While people can opt out of most emergency alerts, unsubscribing from this national test is not possible.
The primary objective of Wednesday’s drill is to gauge the technical proficiency of the national alert system, aiming to reach and enlighten the maximum populace during large-scale emergencies.
Should unforeseen circumstances such as severe weather conditions intervene, a backup test date has been slated for Wednesday, Oct. 11.
Beyond its technical assessment, this exercise is anticipated to bolster public cognizance on protocols during national crises.