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FILE - The Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts on Thursday, Sept. 20.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts on Thursday, Sept. 20.

The Wireless Emergency Alerts portion of the test commences at 12:18 p.m. MDT, and the Emergency Alert System portion follows at 12:20 p.m. MDT. The test will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed.

The Wireless Emergency Alerts test message will be sent to cellphones that are connected to wireless providers participating in program. This is the fourth Emergency Alert System nationwide test and the first national Wireless Emergency Alerts test.

The Emergency Alert System is a national public warning system that provides the president with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency. The test is made available to radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers, and is scheduled to last approximately one minute.

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Cell towers will broadcast the Wireless Emergency Alerts test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, Wireless Emergency Alerts-compatible cellphones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower and whose wireless provider participates in the program should be capable of receiving the test message. Some cellphones will not receive the test message, and cellphones should only receive the message once. The Wireless Emergency Alerts test message will have a header that reads "Presidential Alert" and text that says:

“This is a test of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cellphones.

If circumstances, such as a major weather event, cause the tests to be postponed, the backup date is Wednesday, Oct. 3.