The first nationwide emergency exercise of the Emergency Alert System will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time, or 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. For about three minutes, the public can expect television and radio interruptions and, in some cases, total blackouts of their broadcast and satellite services.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the purpose of the test is to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the system in alerting the public in the event of an emergency. People will hear the classic “this is a test” message during the Emergency Alert System (EAS) broadcast. The audio and video messages may not all indicate that the blackout is a test, so the FCC is working with organizations that represent those with hearing disabilities to prepare them for the test.
Emergency Operations Coordinator Carey Reed told commissioners during their Oct. 13 meeting that in some cases, there will be audio and no video, or vice versa, during the exercise.
The EAS test is being conducted on Nov. 9, at 1 p.m. CST, because it is in between the end of hurricane season and beginning of the winter season, and before the onset of the daily rush hour.
The EAS is an alerting system designed to transmit emergency alerts and warnings to the American public at the national, tribal, state and local levels via television and radio broadcasts. The EAS is used by local emergency coordinators to warn the public about disasters and emergency weather events.