Regional Test of Wireless Emergency Alerts System April 5

Wireless Emergency Alerts graphic

Your mobile phone will buzz loudly on Thursday, April 5, between 10 and 11 a.m. as the National Capital Region tests the Wireless Emergency Alerts system.

Twenty jurisdictions, including Fairfax County, will simultaneously issue a test message through the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system. WEA is a public safety system allowing people who use cellphones and other enabled mobile devices to receive geographically-targeted, text-like messages about threats to safety in their area.

WEA triggers a loud noise and a text message on cellphones and enabled mobile devices. This special WEA tone and vibration will both be repeated twice.

Individuals with cellphones or other enabled mobile devices in Fairfax County will receive the following message: “A test of the Fairfax County Emergency Alert System. No action required.”

We Need Your Help

Consider where you will be on April 5 between 10 and 11 a.m. Wherever you are, be it driving, in a store, at work, in a place of quiet like a library, know this test will be happening and let others know. Please share this information on social media and in other ways to help get the word out as the test will be temporarily disruptive and noticeable.

If you are traveling between jurisdictions during the time of the test, you may receive multiple messages. Each participating jurisdiction will draw a geo-targeted map in their Wireless Emergency Alerts system. Cellphones or enabled mobile devices located outside, but near, the participating jurisdictions will receive the WEA test because this technology uses carrier towers.

People visiting the area will also receive this message, too, not just residents of the region.

If you’ll be out of the region, then you should not receive a test alert as you won’t be near local cell towers.



Why is WEA Being Tested

Public safety officials need to be sure that in times of an emergency or disaster, they have reliable methods and systems that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public when needed. Conducting a regional test supports the continued use, training and improvement of the system.

If a real-world event impacts the WEA test on Thursday, April 5, the back-up test date is Monday, April 9, between 10-11 a.m.


Participating Jurisdictions

The National Capital Region Emergency Managers Council of Governments: City of Alexandria, Arlington County, City of Bowie, City of College Park, City of Fairfax, City of Falls Church, City of Gaithersburg, City of Greenbelt, City of Takoma Park, City of Manassas, City of Manassas Park, City of Rockville, District of Columbia, Charles County, Fairfax County, Frederick County, Loudoun County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and Prince William County.


More About WEA

There are three types of messages sent through WEA:

  • Extreme weather and other threatening emergencies in an area
  • AMBER alerts
  • Presidential alerts during a national emergency

WEA is a short text message designed to capture your attention – emergency officials currently only have 90 characters for the message.

Fairfax County sends Fairfax Alerts messages via text, email and sometimes telephone calls. Messages sent through Fairfax Alerts often include more in-depth details about a critical event. Fairfax Alerts also deliver emergency and non-emergency information and you must subscribe to receive Fairfax Alerts.

For additional WEA information, visit


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