If you happen to flip on the television or radio at 2 pm today and are greeted with what appears to be an alarming takeover of every channel, don't fret – it's just a test.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Federal Communication Commission (FCC) have jointly announced that they will be conducting the first ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) at 2pm.
"The EAS test plays a key role in ensuring the nation is prepared for any type of hazard, and that the U.S. public can receive critical and vital information should it ever be needed," says FEMA's website. "The alert and warning landscape is in an important state of transition; from the current system of radio, television, cable, satellite, and wireline broadcast media-based alerting to a future system that integrates new technologies for a more universal access to alert and warning messages."
The test will be transmitted via TV and radio stations with the U.S. and its territories, and may run anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes, FEMA says. Although phrases such as "this is a test," will accompany many of the interruptions, there will be certain points when an uninformed viewer or listener would not immediately know the nature of the event.
"Due to limitations in the EAS, the video test message scroll may not be the same or indicate that 'this is a test.' The text at the top of the television screen may indicate that an “Emergency Action Notification has been issued," FEMA said.
Officials said they chose this time of year because of the conclusion of hurricane season, and the 2pm time to avoid rush hours. However, upon completion of the test, FEMA says it will be back to regularly scheduled programming, and American media will return to normal.