September 24, 2018

First Ever Nationwide Test of the Wireless Emergency Alert System (WEA)

The WEA test will be followed by a test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). These tests are being coordinated by FEMA in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and will be broadcast via radio, TV, cable stations, and wireless carriers.

The WEA portion of the test will occur on Wednesday, October 3rd at 11:18 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (2:18 p.m. EDT); followed by the Emergency Alert System  (EAS) portion of the test which will occur at 11:20 a.m. Pacific Time (2:20 p.m. EDT).

No action is required by the public.

WEA is a public safety system that allows customers who own certain wireless phones and other compatible mobile devices to receive geographically-targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area.

Because the WEA system reaches almost all* cell phones without any 'registration' or 'opting in', when this test occurs, it is possible that nearly everyone's phone in the grocery store, meeting room, bank, restaurant, etc, will alert simultaneously. This has the potential to cause concern, especially if people are not aware of the planned test.

Therefore, Multnomah County Emergency Management is supporting the state and federal government by amplifying the information about this upcoming nationwide test. We also want to clarify that the Community Emergency Notification System that Multnomah County currently uses, is different from WEA. Specifically, our local system PublicAlerts.org requires registration ('opting in'). Our system is not the system being tested.

Our office has posted about this test on our website and Facebook page (amplifying the federal and state messaging) and we welcome everyone to SHARE our posts. You can also find out more by visiting one of the websites listed below:

If you have an iPhone this is the message you should receive.

If you have an Android this is the message you should receive.

If you have any questions about these tests, please feel free to contact: public.info@state.or.us. You can also contact anyone at Multnomah County Emergency Management.

Where can I provide feedback?

FEMA invites the public to send comments on the nationwide EAS-WEA test to FEMA-National-Test@fema.dhs.gov. Valuable information on the effectiveness of a national WEA capability using the Presidential alert category includes:

  • Whether your mobile device displayed one, more or no WEA test messages;
  • The make, model and operating system version of your mobile device;
  • Your wireless service provider;
  • Whether the device was turned on and in the same location for at least 30 minutes after the start of the test (2:18 p.m. ET);
  • The location of the device (as precise as possible), including the device’s environment (e.g. indoors or outdoors, rural or urban, mobile or stationary);
  • Whether you are normally able to make calls, receive texts, or use apps at that location;
  • Whether the mobile device was in use at the time of the alert (for a call or a data session); and
  • Whether anyone else at your location received the WEA test alert message.

These tests are part of the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System, IPAWS, a national system for local alerting that provides authenticated emergency alerts and information from emergency officials to the public. Although this is the fourth Emergency Alert System (EAS) nationwide test, it is the first national Wireless Emergency Alert System test

* Some older model phones may not be capable, and participation by wireless companies is voluntary.

Updated 10/02/2018 @ 8:33pm Pacific Daylight Time