The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management reminds community members of the upcoming  nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system at about 11:20 a.m. (PDT), Wednesday, Oct. 4.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be conducting the test to ensure these systems continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies and disasters.

The test messages will display in either English or Spanish depending on the language settings of the wireless device.

“Alert systems are critical tools used by local, state and federal public safety agencies to rapidly warn the community of threats and hazards and provide protective action recommendations that can save lives,” said Kelly Hubbard, director for the county Office of Emergency Management.

“We encourage you to learn more about the different types of alerts you may receive in a disaster by visiting the County’s official emergency preparedness website,” she said.

EAS messages are transmitted through radio and television with an alert tone or scrolling text across the bottom of the screen.  The EAS message will state:

“This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering the United States from 11:20 to 11:50 hours PDT. This is only a test. No action is required by the public.”

WEA messages are transmitted to cell phones and look like text messages that are accompanied by a distinct attention tone and vibration. The message will read:

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” 

WEAs are broadcast from local cell towers to any WEA‐compatible mobile device in a geographically targeted area. If you are in the area or travel into the area in which a WEA is active, your cell phone can receive the signal and alert you.

All local radio and T.V. stations will broadcast the EAS test, and all cell phones that are on, not on airplane mode, and within range of a cell tower will receive the WEA test.

Although local public safety agencies use these same alerting systems during emergencies in Santa Barbara County, it is important to note this test will be managed by federal agencies with no local involvement.

In the event the nationwide test cannot be conducted on Oct. 4, the back-up date is Wednesday, Oct. 11.

In addition to being aware of EAS and WEA alerting methods, the Office of Emergency Management urges the public to register for the county’s local ReadySBC Alerts system.

Residents and visitors can register up to five locations within the county and multiple contact methods — including text messages, phone calls, emails and TTY/TDD for the deaf and hard-of-hearing — in the order they prefer to be contacted.

Registering for local alerts ensures emergency notifications can be received at home, at work and when traveling anywhere in the world.

For more information about this test, visit Nationwide Alert System Test on Oct. 4, 2023 | Santa Barbara County, CA – official website.