A test of the national ‘Emergency Alert System’ which was seen by television viewers this morning in states across the country prompted panic and confusion, with many taking to Twitter to express their concerns.
The test began at around 11am EST and was broadcast in Washington DC, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The emergency alert contained no details and merely listed the states it affected and said the alert would run from 11am until 12 midnight.
Viewers in Sacramento, CA also reported seeing the test, which lasted for about 10 minutes before the regular TV broadcast resumed. At no point were viewers advised that the alert was only a test.
Some said the alert made them panic.
So much for all the emergency alert testing. This shit is frozen AND I'M STARTING TO PANIC BECAUSE IT'S A SCARY MESSAGE!
— Amber Lee (@blamberr) March 30, 2015
An "emergency alert" popped up on my tv and I am freaking the fuck out.
— ? (@BrittanyBalanag) March 30, 2015
Others also tweeted their confusion and nervousness at seeing the alert, with many noting that the message had frozen on screen.
@FOX5Atlanta Mother-in-law called very nervous… Something about an Emergency Alert for the whole east coast until 11pm?
— Tim Beljavskis (@TBeljavskis) March 30, 2015
@JulieGrauert I thought there was something wrong with my TV. Never saw Nat'l Emergency Alert b4
— Chris Dowling (@reddeviljake) March 30, 2015
that emergency alert system took 10 minutes out of the scooby doo movie I was watching
— Ali (@alisimmonsx) March 30, 2015
So the emergency alert system is going off on my tv. Listing a couple dozen states… And it doesn't say "this is a test…."
— Jenn Coffill (@BecauseImCheap) March 30, 2015
@LattifMamdouh Idk! It just says "emergency alert" and it's naming ten or so states. Wtfff
— ? (@BrittanyBalanag) March 30, 2015
– This emergency alert is unnecessarily loud and annoyingly long… It's too early for this ??
— ?? ?? (@kvyxc_) March 30, 2015
Emergency Alert System just broadcasted all the States but it's frozen. What the hell is going on?
— Kenneth Sitjar (@KSitjar) March 30, 2015
@GregHillWAAF I'm watching the longest emergency alert on tv I've ever seen? Anything going on?
— Glenn MacDonald (@grmacdonald777) March 30, 2015
Anybody else peep this emergency alert for almost like every state? Wtf going on??
— King ?oon. (@NewEpisode) March 30, 2015
Loooongest emergency alert testing ever. It's like it's buffering on my tv.
— Lauren Weiner (@lbw622) March 30, 2015
Why is the emergency alert system frozen? pic.twitter.com/1U5hYjTrfk
— An Idle Mind (@RehearsedApathy) March 30, 2015
MSNBC emergency alert seems to have us all in trouble. It's frozen and is pretty broad. pic.twitter.com/engRKBMwzu
— Paul Angelone (@PaulAngelone) March 30, 2015
Yoooo i walk into my livin room an the Tv just says "Emergency Alert" across it… I'm like ooo shit here we go we at war… Na just a test^
— -Joey The Wop- (@Joey_Scraps) March 30, 2015
Either they are testing the Emergency Alert System here or Comcast is trying to give me a heart attack
— Mork (@mork1215) March 30, 2015
Last October, an emergency alert from the White House interrupted TV viewers across America, advising them to stand by for an emergency message and not to use their phones.
AT&T blamed a “nationally syndicated radio station” for sending the alert message by mistake, despite the fact that only the federal government can send out EAS alerts. The alert system, “can only be activated by the President in times of emergency,” reported Fox 5.
The EAS is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Weather Service (NOAA/NWS). Mandatory test messages are sent via broadcast and cable television as well as all radio outlets. A separate system was introduced in 2013 for cellphones.
Meanwhile, a test of the Amber alert system in Michigan awoke people with a text message from state police at 5am on Saturday morning, prompting some complaints. The 6-year-old girl in question was later found safe.