Emergency Alert System 101


The Emergency Alert System is a national public warning system.

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission), along with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the NWS (National Weather Service), implements the Emergency Alert System.


The NWS develops emergency weather information to alert the public about imminent dangerous weather conditions.

The director of FEMA is responsible (through authority of the President) for activation of the Emergency Alert System at the national level.

The FCC’s role includes determining the technical rules and standards for the Emergency Alert System.


The Emergency Alert System requires

  • broadcasters
  • cable television systems
  • wireless cable systems
  • satellite digital audio radio service providers
  • direct broadcast satellite providers

…to provide the communications capability to the President to address the American public during a national emergency. The system also may be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information, such as AMBER alerts and weather information targeted to specific areas.


The Emergency Alert System used to be named the Emergency Broadcast System.

A typical public-alert-certified Weather Radio will receive the signal from the activation of the Emergency Alert System (as well as weather radio broadcasts and warnings).

NOAA Weather Radio is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information from a nearby National Weather Service office transmitting National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day. In addition, NWR broadcasts warning and post-event information for all types of natural hazards, such as earthquakes and volcano activity, and technological events, such as chemical releases or oil spills.

The NWR network has more than 870 transmitters operating at these locations.

Do you have a weather radio?


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