Here's how to block the emergency alert test. Hint: It's not in your settings

Your cellphone will blare Wednesday afternoon to alert you of a national emergency – but don't worry, it's only a test.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Federal Communications Commission will broadcast an alert to cellphones, televisions and radios around 2:20 p.m. ET Wednesday to test the nation's emergency alert systems. There's nothing you need to do to receive the alert.

Opting out of the test, though, is a different story. The test will evaluate the United States' Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts, both of which were designed to notify the public in case of major events.

The cellphone alert will arrive with a loud tone, which some people may want to avoid. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, alerts like these can inadvertently expose survivors' hidden cellphones, which they may rely on for help.

Here's what you need to know about Wednesday's test and how to avoid receiving the alert.

The 2023 nationwide emergency alert test will take place Wednesday, Oct. 4, around 2:20 p.m. ET.
The 2023 nationwide emergency alert test will take place Wednesday, Oct. 4, around 2:20 p.m. ET.

What is an emergency alert test?

Wednesday's alert will test the country's Emergency Alert System, called EAS, and Wireless Emergency Alerts, called WEA. The EAS test will alert radios and televisions, while the WEA alert will be sent to cellphones.

Apple Watches with cellular data can also receive emergency, government and public safety alerts in certain regions, according to Apple.

Why is there an emergency alert test?

Emergency alerts are used to notify Americans about public emergencies, especially those that impact people on a national level. Wednesday's test will ensure both EAS and WEA are working properly.

When is the next Emergency Alert System test 2023?

The Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts tests will be conducted Wednesday.

If the test cannot happen due to a major event or severe weather, it will be rescheduled for Oct. 11.

How loud will the alert be on Oct. 4?

Cellphones will receive the alert as a "unique tone," similar to the sound that accompanies Amber Alerts and National Weather Service warnings.

During the alert, your cellphone will also vibrate and display a message that reads: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The message will be displayed in English or Spanish, depending on your phone's language settings.

TVs and radios will broadcast a similar message: “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering the United States from 14:20 to 14:50 hours ET. This is only a test. No action is required by the public.”

How long will the alert be on Oct. 4?

The national test will start around 2:20 p.m. ET Wednesday and continue for roughly 30 minutes.

The TV and radio alert will last around one minute.

The cellphone alert tone should last seconds and will only play once. On some devices, the tone will stop after a user clicks a button, FEMA says. The alert will not disrupt cellphone operations.

The test will send an alert to cellphones, televisions and radios.
The test will send an alert to cellphones, televisions and radios.

How to block the emergency alert test

The cellular broadcast system will send out emergency alerts starting at 2:20 p.m. ET for a duration of 30 minutes. During this time, all WEA-compatible wireless cellphones should receive the alert.

To avoid the alert, you can:

  • Turn off your cellphone.

  • Put your phone on airplane mode.

  • Use WiFi only.

According to FEMA, cellphones that are turned off for the entire 30-minute test period should not receive the alert message once it's turned back on.

Your cellphone may not receive the alert if you are outside active cell tower range or if your wireless provider does not participate in WEA.

Some cellphone settings include options to turn off emergency alerts. Opting out of these alerts will not silence Wednesday's national test, FEMA says.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence recommends survivors turn off hidden cellphones during the test.

How to block emergency alerts on iPhone

If you'd like to silence future emergency and severe weather alerts, here's how to opt out of them on an iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings > Notifications.

  2. Scroll to the bottom of the screen.

  3. Amber Alerts, emergency alerts, public safety alerts and test alerts are listed under government alerts.

  4. Turn the alerts you\'d like off by switching the slider from green to grey.

You can also turn alert sounds off by selecting emergency alerts.

How to block emergency alerts on Android

Settings vary by phone. Here's what the Android website says about turning off emergency alerts:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Select Notifications > Wireless emergency alerts.

  3. Choose how often you want to receive these alerts and customize your settings.

When was the last FEMA nationwide test?

FEMA is required to test its Integrated Public Alert and Warning System at least once every three years, including WEA, EAS and other alerts. The last national test was in 2021.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Emergency alert test: Here's how to block the Oct. 4 alert