Ready.gov

emergency alertThe Federal Emergency Response Agency (FEMA) in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission periodically conduct a nationwide test of the integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). The WEA message will display on mobile devices as a Presidential Alert and will read: THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed. FEMA will send only one WEA message to mobile devices and because the WEA message is a Presidential Alert, users will not be able to opt out of receiving the message, even if users have deactivated alert notifications in their mobile devices. The test lasts one minute and allows FEMA to verify the delivery and broadcast of an national test message and assess the infrastructure for its distribution. 

During an emergency, alert and warning officials need to provide the public with life-saving information quickly. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs), made available through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) infrastructure, are just one of the ways public safety officials can quickly and effectively alert and warn the public about serious emergencies. 

What you need to know about wireless emergency alerts (WEA):

  • WEAs can be sent by state and local public safety officials, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the President of the United States
  • WEAs can be issued for three alert categories – imminent threat, AMBER, and presidential
  • WEAs look like text messages, but are designed to get your attention and alert you with a unique sound and vibration, both repeated twice
  • WEAs are no more than 90 characters, and will include the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, as well as the agency issuing the alert
  • WEAs are not affected by network congestion and will not disrupt texts, calls, or data sessions that are in progress
  • Mobile users are not charged for receiving WEAs and there is no need to subscribe
  • To ensure your device is WEA-capable, check with your service provider. WEAs can be sent by state and local public safety officials, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the President of the United States
  • WEAs can be issued for three alert categories – imminent threat, AMBER, and presidential
  • WEAs look like text messages, but are designed to get your attention and alert you with a unique sound and vibration, both repeated twice
  • WEAs are no more than 90 characters, and will include the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, as well as the agency issuing the alert
  • WEAs are not affected by network congestion and will not disrupt texts, calls, sessions that are in progress. Mobile users are not charged for receiving WEAs and there is no need to subscribe
  • To ensure your device is WEA-capable, check with your service provider
  • Download the FEMA app to your mobile device here

Billie Nicholson, Editor
September 2018

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