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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

First-ever nationwide Emergency Alert System test today

We are used to "this is a test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS)" messages over radio and TV, but today marks the first time we are having a test across the entire nation:

The City of Houston's Office of Emergency Management reminds residents that on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 1 p.m. Houston time (Central Standard Time), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will be conducting the first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS).

This system is intended to provide the President of the United States with the ability to communicate emergency information to the nation during a catastrophic incident. Testing this important system allows agencies to determine gaps in the system and help improve it to ensure that everyone has access to important emergency information.

While residents may be familiar with required weekly tests, this first-ever nationwide Emergency Alert System test may contain different elements. Audio will indicate that this is in fact a test, scrolling text across television screens may not.

Residents should not be alarmed when they see or hear the test

Residents should refrain from calling 911 to inquire about the test. 911 is reserved for emergency situations which threaten life or property and require the assistance of police, fire or emergency medical services. Calling 911 for non-emergencies may overwhelm telephone systems at local emergency call centers and prevent actual emergencies from being reported.

CNN has more on the implications here.

As far as the Houston TV stations handling this...

"We're going to warn people on either side of it," KTRK 13 creative services director Tom Ash told the Houston Chronicle. COMMENT: Click to leave your thoughts on this post here