Radio and TV will be interrupted by emergency broadcast messages tomorrow
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If you're planning to use tomorrow's lunch break to catch up on a bit of TV then pay attention, because broadcasts will be interrupted when the US carries out an emergency alert test.
There's nothing worse than having a show or sports game suddenly cut out at a vital moment, and while this particular interruption could save your life at some point in the future, it's worth avoiding that frustration while you have the opportunity.
The interruption tomorrow is designed to test the US's federal emergency alert system, with messages split into two groups: the Emergency Alert System (EAS) for radios and televisions, and the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) for wireless phones.
Both tests will take place simultaneously, with cell towers broadcasting it for 30 minutes.
If you've got your TV or radio on when the message goes out, you'll be met with a message which says: "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."
Anyone with a wireless cell phone will also be alerted to the test by an alarm which will sound, and a message which reads: "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed."
The message will display in either English or Spanish depending on the language settings on the cell phone, with the test designed to see how effective the government's mass communication options really are.
Joseph Trainor, a core faculty member at the University of Delaware's Disaster Research Center, spoke to CBS News about the need for two tests to take place simultaneously.
"With the combination, you're going to catch a wide swath of people," he explained.
"We know that they are effective systems. Like any system, there are strengths and weaknesses. How many characters you can use, how much you can transmit, how fast you can get it out," Trainor continued.
"Every system has limits, and that's why we tell people, when we are giving advice about building warning systems, you don't ever want to rely on just one thing."
"The idea is that all of these systems are trying to work together to get information out, in as many ways as possible, to the right people", Trainor said. "So that folks have the information to make good choices about the risks around them."
The test will take place at approximately 2:20pm ET on 4 October.