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Technology

What’s that sound? Why your phone, TV and radio are blaring today

Later today, your devices will erupt in cacophonous noise. Your TV and radio will ring. Even your smartphone will start blasting.

Don’t be alarmed when your devices start blaring in unison. Although it sounds like something out of a scary science fiction novel, there’s nothing to be frightened about. You’re not getting hacked or attacked — it’s just the government reaching out. (And, no, it’s not a scam, although there have been government emergency alert system scams in the past.)

To be specific, the government will test two emergency alert systems on your devices later today. Basically, the big dogs at the top want to make sure you’ll be properly warned in case of an emergency. Scroll down to find out when the alerts are and why they need to interrupt you so darn loudly.

Watch out for these two alerts that will pop up on your devices

Here’s the full story. At 2:20 p.m. ET on Wednesday, FEMA and the FCC are running a nationwide test of two different alerts:

The EAS will alert your radio and TV — and it may interrupt the show you’re watching or listening to. It will say:

THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System. This system was developed by broadcast and cable operators in voluntary cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and local authorities to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency an official message would have followed the tone alert you heard at the start of this message. No action is required.

EAS message

Meanwhile, if you’re texting a friend or watching videos on your phone, the WEA’s loud blaring will jolt you out of your fun activity. The agencies say the alert will have a distinctive vibration and tone so any members of the public can access them, regardless of disabilities.

The WEA message will be much shorter than the EAS message. It will say:

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

WEA message

Cell towers will broadcast the test for around 30 minutes, starting at around 2:20 p.m. ET. On the bright side, you should only receive this message once, so it shouldn’t be a huge bother.

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