Quick Takes

Cell phone alert Wednesday is just a test 

By: - October 3, 2023 3:12 pm

Survivors of violence who have a hidden phone are advised to turn if off and schedule no calls around the alert scheduled from 2:20 p.m. EST. (Getty Images)

Expect a national emergency alert on your cell phones Wednesday afternoon, but don’t worry – it’s just a test. 

The  Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will test the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to make sure widespread alerts are functional and effective ways to inform the public about real emergencies. 

“Testing the nation’s emergency alert systems is of utmost importance to make sure there is no disconnect during serious emergencies,” Jody Meiman, executive director of Louisville Metro Emergency Services, said in a statement. “We count on these systems to work when we need them and consider them a powerful tool in our toolbox to help alert residents of severe weather, traffic advisories, hazardous materials incidents, missing individuals and other emergencies.”

Cell phones will get an alert from EAS. Televisions and radios will receive a separate alert. The alert is set to go out at 2:20 p.m. EST on Oct. 4. Should weather or other circumstances delay the test, it will happen on Oct. 11 instead. 

The cell phone message will read, in English: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” 

If a phone is set to Spanish, the test will say: “ESTA ES UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia. No se necesita acción.”

The television and radio message is: “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering the United States from 14:20 to 14:50 hours ET. This is only a test. No action is required by the public.”

ZeroV, a Kentucky nonprofit dedicated to ending domestic violence, advises that “while these alerts are invaluable for public safety, they can pose risks to survivors who have hidden phones by alerting the abuser that the phone exists.” 

ZeroV and other similar organizations have recommended that anyone in such a situation should “power off their devices during the test and not schedule phone calls on their hidden cell phone during that time.” 

You can reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or text START to 88788. 


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Sarah Ladd
Sarah Ladd

Sarah Ladd is a Louisville-based journalist from West Kentucky who's covered everything from crime to higher education. She spent nearly two years on the metro breaking news desk at The Courier Journal. In 2020, she started reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and has covered health ever since. As the Kentucky Lantern's health reporter, she focuses on mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, children's welfare, COVID-19 and more.