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DC-Area Wireless Emergency Alert Test on Thursday

If commuters hear a piercing alarm coming from their mobile phones on Thursday morning, it’s just a test of the wireless emergency alert system being conducted across metropolitan Washington, DC.

The test, scheduled at 10-11 am Thursday, is part of the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system.

The National Capital Region Emergency Managers Council of Governments participating include: City of Alexandria, City of Arlington, City of Bowie, City of College Park, City of Fairfax, City of Falls Church, City of Gaithersburg, City of Greenbelt, City of Takoma Park, City of Manassas, City of Manassas Park, City of Rockville, District of Columbia, Charles County, Fairfax County, Frederick County, Loudoun County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and Prince William County.

Here’s a little 411 on the WEA:

  • Authorized national, state or local government authorities may send alerts regarding public safety emergencies – such as evacuation orders or shelter-in-place orders due to severe weather, a terrorist threat or chemical spill – using WEA.
  • The alerts from authenticated public safety officials are sent through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) to participating wireless carriers, which then push the alerts to mobile devices in the affected area.
  • A WEA alert appears on the screen of the recipient’s handset as a text-like message. The alert is accompanied by a unique attention signal and vibration geared toward hearing- or vision-impaired people.

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