I guess you might call this a public service announcement - with a bit of history.
On Wednesday, October 4, 2023 a test is planned of the nation’s Emergency Alert system, to ensure everything is working correctly in the event of a national disaster or an attack. Every cellphone, TV and radio in the US should blare out the jarring electronic warning of an emergency alert, accompanied by a notice something like: “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.” On cellphones, it will come as a short text message: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” Phones on which the main menu is set to Spanish will see the message in Spanish.
The message will go out at the same moment across every time zone in the U.S (12:20 p.m.Central time). It will go out only once, and will last about a minute. Should there be “widespread severe weather or other significant events,” it could be postponed to the backup testing date of Oct. 11.
The first national emergency broadcasting system in the U.S. was created in 1951 under President Harry S. Truman. CONELRAD (Control of Electromagnetic Radiation) was intended to allow continuous broadcast of civil defense information using radio stations to warn the nation in the event of war, threat of war, enemy attack or other grave national crisis.
CONELRAD was replaced by the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) in August 1963, and was later replaced by the Emergency Alert System (EAS) in 1997.
The first nationwide test of the EAS took place November 9, 2011. That check revealed problems that could have meant not everyone would hear the alert in the event of a real emergency. The system was subsequently improved and strengthened.
The upcoming test on Oct. 4 will be the 7th nationwide test sent to radios and televisions, the 3rd to consumer cellphones and the second to all cellular devices.
Although the system was never used for a national emergency, it has been activated more than 20,000 times between 1976 and 1996 to broadcast civil emergency messages and warnings of severe weather hazards.
Mistaken messages have occasionally been sent out that triggered false alarms at local levels, especially in the 1950s when the system was new. The most recent false alarm was in 2018 when the Hawaii Management Agency system sent an alert warning of a ballistic missile threat. It took 38 minutes to clarify that during a shift change, someone had selected the wrong item on a computer.