No cause for alarm: Nationwide test of alert system coming Wednesday

An alert tone will sound on radio and TV stations nationwide Wednesday afternoon, but there’s no need to batten down the hatches or make a mad dash to the basement for safety.

At 2:20 p.m. Wednesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, will conduct a nationwide test of the broadcast emergency alert system.

WTOP listeners may be familiar with the monthly test — a loud squawking tone, followed by the words, “This is a test …”

Wednesday’s nationwide test will be similar.

The test is to evaluate the broadcast system’s readiness to alert the nation in the absence of internet connectivity, according to FEMA.

Unlike the most recent test in October, Wednesday’s test will not involve the mobile wireless system. No notifications will be sent to cellphones.

Instead, primary radio stations will receive FEMA’s order to test the emergency alert, other radio stations, TV stations, cable and satellite service providers are to present the test alert within minutes.

The emergency alert system is meant to ensure that public safety officials have the ability to deliver alerts and warnings to the public in times of emergency or disaster.

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