The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said that on the morning of Nov. 9, people across the state will hear tones, or see a test message across their screens, saying “this is a test.”
The difference this time is that the test is happening across the nation, all at the same time. It will be a first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) giving federal, state and local officials the opportunity to make sure vital life-safety information can be communicated from the nation’s capital to the public via broadcasters and cable operators.
It will last less than four minutes, and no action is needed or required on the part of the public
Merced Fire Chief Mike McLaughlin said, “If a major emergency or disaster were to occur in the city of Merced, the Emergency Alert System is one of the tools that we can use to provide vital information to the members of our community. Being able to provide accurate, timely information is vital in a disaster situation. Critical information would include things like impacted areas, evacuation instructions, evacuation centers and shelter-in-place instructions.”
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“Following a national or regional emergency, the ability of federal officials to address the public through EAS and other platforms is critical for public safety,” Mike Dayton, Acting Secretary of the California Emergency Management Agency, said in a news release. “This EAS test is an excellent opportunity for local, state and federal emergency officials as well as EAS participants to identify and address potential problems in the system before another real emergency occurs.”
The nationwide EAS test is being coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security’s FEMA, the Federal Communications Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service.
Federal officials will initiate the three and half minute test from Washington, DC and it will activate EAS systems across the nation. A “live” EAS alert will be transmitted to broadcast, cable, and satellite radio and television stations. The test will look very much like the standard monthly local EAS tests that most people are familiar with.
Audio messages will repeat “This is a test” but video text at the bottom of the television screens may vary in each county based on the equipment of the television stations. Once the test is completed, regular programming will resume and broadcasters, cable, and satellite providers will provide the FCC with details of their participation.
Although FEMA hasn’t previously conducted a nationwide test of the EAS, it has twice conducted tests of the national EAS code in Alaska.For more information, visit http://www.fema.gov/emergency/ipaws/eas_info.shtm--Sun-Star staff