FEMA just ran a national test of the emergency alert system

Testing, testing. Is this emergency warning system on?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, just buzzed every television and radio in the U.S. with its latest test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS).

The alert test went out on televisions and radios at 2:20pm ET (11:20am PT).

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System,” the message read. “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.”

FEMA’s EAS is one of several systems in place to communicate emergency messages to the public on a massive scale.

The first nationwide test was in 2011 and the tests have run several times up to October 2018. This was the first nationwide test of the system this year, and the fifth test to date.

As mobile devices became more common across the U.S. population than televisions and radios, FEMA began working on the Wireless Emergency System to send notifications to smartphone users. It was designed to allow the sitting president to send a message to all U.S. phones in the event of national emergency. Its first test ran last year after a short delay following Hurricane Florence on the east coast.

Today’s EAS test, however, was to measure the system’s readiness to alert in the absence of cell service or internet connectivity.

“Other radio and television broadcast and cable stations in each state that monitor PEP stations will receive and broadcast the test message so that within minutes the test message should be presented by all radio and television, cable, wireline service providers and direct broadcast satellite service providers nationwide,” said FEMA in a blog post.