09 November 2011

A few more things to know about the EAS test

Today, at 2:00 PM Eastern time, the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) will be held (or was held, depending on when you read this). Although we provided much of the basic information on the EAS test in a previous post, here are a few more things you should know, based on additional information I've read, or questions that I've been asked.

The FCC's Public Service Announcement on the EAS Test

  • As mentioned above, a nationwide test of the Presidential Emergency Action Notification (EAN) of the EAS is to begin at 2 PM EST. It’s expected to last about 30 seconds, which is shorter than originally planned. Please note that some older news stories, articles, blog posts, and announcements refer to the test lasting 3 minutes. That was recently was changed.

  • November 9 was chosen because it is near the end of hurricane season and before severe winter weather. Conducting the test at 2 PM is intended to minimize disruption during rush hour, but still ensure that the test occurs during the work day.

  • All U.S. broadcast radio and television stations, cable systems, satellite radio/television providers, and wireline video services are required to participate in the test.

  • You should not be able to tune away from the test, as you can during weekly local tests.

  • During the test, cable customers will see a special EAS channel regardless of the cable channel they are watching. As the EAS test runs, the audio feed will advise viewers that it is only a test. The onscreen text will simply state: “This is an Emergency Action Notification,” and in some cases, “for the United States” or “for the District of Columbia,” depending on the equipment. the national EAS test outwardly should not seem very different from the local EAS tests you’re used to, like this (longer) example from Alaska:
An example Emergency Action Notification (EAN) from Alaska

  • According to some cable providers, it might take a bit longer for the test signal to reach some customers in the Midwest and the West.

  • The EAN message itself is set by the federal government; cable systems are required to pass through the government’s message to their viewers.


  1. Hear the test went perfectly too, by government standards of success.

  2. Hi Sam, thanks for stopping by. Your comment is all to sad, but true. All the more reason we need to be self-reliant and prepare to fend for ourselves as much as we can!