2023 National Emergency Alert How to Block the Noise and Stay Informed
Your cellphone is about to blare with an emergency alert test, but fret not – it’s only a drill. On Wednesday afternoon, around 2:20 p.m. ET, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will unleash a nationwide test of emergency alert systems that reach your cellphones, televisions, and radios. You won’t have to lift a finger to receive this alert. However, if you’d rather not be disturbed by the loud tone, keep reading.
What is the Emergency Alert Test?
This test evaluates the United States’ Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), created to notify the public during significant events. While these alerts serve a crucial purpose, it’s essential to consider potential unintended consequences, like exposing hidden cellphones relied upon by survivors, as noted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
What to Expect on October 4, 2023
This year’s nationwide emergency alert test is scheduled for Wednesday, October 4, around 2:20 p.m. ET. EAS will target radios and televisions, while WEA alerts will be sent to cellphones. Apple Watches with cellular data can also receive these alerts in specific regions, according to Apple.
Why the Test Matters
Emergency alerts play a vital role in informing Americans about public emergencies, particularly those with a national impact. The test on Wednesday ensures the seamless functioning of both EAS and WEA.
What If the Test Is Rescheduled?
Should unforeseen events or severe weather disrupt the test, it will be rescheduled for October 11.
Decoding the Alert
Cellphones will emit a “unique tone,” similar to Amber Alerts and National Weather Service warnings. You’ll also receive a message in English or Spanish, depending on your phone’s language settings. TVs and radios will broadcast a similar message. This test will last approximately 30 minutes.
Blocking the Emergency Alert Test
If you’d prefer not to receive the alert, you have several options:
- Turn off your cellphone.
- Activate airplane mode.
- Use WiFi only.
FEMA advises that cellphones entirely powered down during the 30-minute test should not receive the alert when powered back on. However, be aware that if you’re outside the range of an active cell tower or your wireless provider doesn’t participate in WEA, your cellphone may not receive the alert. Please note that turning off emergency alerts in your settings will not silence Wednesday’s national test, as per FEMA’s guidance.
Customizing Alerts on iPhone and Android
To silence future emergency and severe weather alerts, follow these steps:
- Go to Settings > Notifications.
- Scroll to the bottom.
- Find government alerts (Amber Alerts, emergency alerts, public safety alerts, and test alerts).
- Turn off alerts by switching the slider from green to grey.
- Open the Settings app.
- Select Notifications > Wireless emergency alerts.
- Customize your settings as per your preferences.
When Was the Last FEMA Nationwide Test?
FEMA is mandated to conduct tests of its Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, including WEA, EAS, and other alerts, at least once every three years. The last national test took place in 2021.
Stay informed and prepared while managing your alerts – that’s the key to a less intrusive Wednesday afternoon during this vital nationwide test.