Emergency Alert System sounds for national test
by Amanda Stegall
Nov 09, 2011 | 1309 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When emergency alarms sound at 2 p.m. today, don't be alarmed -- it's only a test.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is conducting it's first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System in conjunction with the Federal Communications Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Communities throughout the country will be taking part to ensure alarms are in proper working order to alert residents of dangers due to severe weather.

According to Phil Petree, president of www.neighborhoodwatchalerts.com, "FEMA is using a code for an actual emergency, so the text at the top of the television screen may indicate that an 'Emergency Action Notification has been issued.' Because this is an actual alert code, the background image that appears on video screens indicating 'this is a test' may not appear, and when users flip channels and see or hear the alert on all channels, the fear is this could cause uninformed users to panic and call 911, flooding the system."

"We're hoping for the best," Capt. Melanie Black with Bartow County E911 said. "According to the information we received, the test will only be 30 seconds. It's no different from normal except that this is national. They picked that time on purpose because most people will be at work, so we'll have to wait and see."

Locally, WBHF AM 1450 and WYXC 1270 will be participating and the alert will sound on their frequencies.

To help citizens stay prepared and aware, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency has an application available as a free download for smartphones. The app, Ready Georgia, provides safety tips as well as notifications regarding hazards and natural disaster threats.

Bartow's Emergency Management Agency tested the outdoor sirens Nov. 3. This alert will include local radio and television stations.

According to FEMA, the alert will be transmitted via television and radio stations within the U.S., including Alaska, Hawaii, the territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa.