From Harford County government:
On Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, the FCC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will conduct the first ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The EAS alerts are transmitted over radio and television broadcast stations, cable television and other media services.
On November 9, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. EST, FEMA will transmit the EAS code for national emergencies. The EAS code and alert will be rebroadcast by broadcast stations and other service providers until it has been distributed throughout the United States and all U.S. territories. The nationwide test on November 9 will be longer – approximately three minutes in duration, compared to the usual two minute monthly test of the EAS.
The purpose of the November 9 test is to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the system as a way to alert the public during a nationwide emergency situation. To help educate the public about the upcoming test, the FCC has established a website which is dedicated to the November 9 test. For additional information regarding the nationwide EAS test, visitwww.fcc.gov/pshs.
Established in 1994, the EAS is an alert and warning system designed to transmit emergency alerts and warning to the public at the national, state, and local levels. EAS participants broadcast alerts and warnings regarding severe weather alerts, child abductions and other types of emergencies. Although local and state components of the EAS are tested on a weekly and monthly basis, there has never been an end-to-end nationwide test of the system.
Citizens are reminded the November 9 test of the EAS is only a test. There is no need to contact 9-1-1 when the alert is received as it is only a test of the system.