Residents of Clatsop County — and the rest of the United States – will receive text messages on their cell phones Wednesday, Oct. 3, during the first-ever nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alert system.
The test, scheduled for 11:18 a.m. Pacific time, will coincide with a test of the Emergency Alert System set to be broadcast two minutes later on television and radio stations.
The Wireless Emergency Alert system was developed to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children and other critical situations through alerts on their cell phones. It allows customers whose wireless provider participates in WEA and who own a WEA-compatible wireless phone to receive geo-targeted alerts of imminent threats to safety in their area through unique tones and vibrations. The national WEA test will use the same special tone and vibration.
The WEA cell phone message will read “This is a test of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” The message will display under the header “Presidential Alert.”
The EAS test, due to take place at 11:20 a.m., will be similar to regular monthly test messages with which the public is familiar.
No pre-registration is required to receive the messages. Most major cell service providers are participating. Some people, however, might not receive the message for various reasons: phones with older operating systems, out-of-range locations in rural areas, and providers who are not taking part.
The Oct. 3 alert is intended to highlight and test the federal system, but it also presents an opportunity to teach residents about locally-generated alerts and how to differentiate between the two, says Clatsop County Emergency Manager Tiffany Brown.
Brown emphasizes that Thursday’s test is a national exercise of federal emergency warning systems and is not generated by local emergency providers. DO NOT call 911 or local emergency management agencies if you receive the WEA alert.More information about the upcoming local test will be released in the near future.
Thursday’s national WEA test will be sent through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) as part of the nation’s modern alert and warning infrastructure that automatically authenticates alerts. Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes; during this time, cell phones that are switched on and within range of an active cell tower should be capable of receiving the test message. Cell phones should receive the message once.
More information on IPAWS and WEA is available at www.ready.gov/alerts.