We are having a national test of the Emergency Alert System on Wednesday, August 11th at 2:20 PM, Eastern Time. The test will go to televisions & radios, and specially configured cell phones will receive an emergency alert test code message.

Now, you need to know this because whenever one of these national tests come along, a certain amount of people freak out. And given the times we live in, and the amount of paranoia among the general public, it's better the word get spread out to people.

Besides, you know how driving is on the first day it snows? People drive poorly like they've never even seen snow or ice. Well, this is pretty much the same thing. The test won't be too much different from a weather warning, but most people don't get weather warnings on their phones, and this will show up as a notification on your phone, similar to the photo above.

The Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS) is FEMA's national system for local alerting that provides authenticated emergency and life-saving information to the public through mobile phones using Wireless Emergency Alerts, to radio and television via the Emergency Alert System, and on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Weather Radio.

Here's the real reason for this test: To make sure the system works. There was a test similar to this one on August 11th that failed badly. FEMA and the organizers need to know where the points of failure are, so if there's a real emergency, this system then works like it's supposed to.

But again, especially with the elderly and the young, let them know it's just a test and there's no need to freak out.

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