“This is a test. This is only a test.” You are going to hear these words twice this month. On October 4th at about 1120 AM Pacific Time, a nationwide broadcast of the National Emergency Alert Test will be conducted by FEMA and the Federal Communications Committee (FCC), with a backup date of October 11th at the same time in case there is a significant emergency somewhere in the nation.

The other test of emergency notification systems will be on October 19th at 1019 AM Pacific Time for the annual Great Shakeout earthquake drill.

The October 4th test will involve the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) that sound and appear on smartphones.

The EAS side of this test will be aired by TV and radio broadcasters including KRKO and KXA, cable systems, satellite radio and TV providers, and on the National Weather Service’s NOAA Weather Radio network. The WEA version of this test will be directed to all wireless phone providers, and received on cell phones. If your cell phone does not receive this test, contact your wireless provider. Keep in mind only cell phones that are turned off or set to airplane mode will fail to receive this test.

The test on Wednesday October 4th exercises the national warning system, used only if there is a nationwide emergency and Americans can be rapidly informed. The test helps determine if there are any gaps in the warning system so they can be addressed before a real emergency arises. These tests go back to the Cold War era in the 1950. Last year’s National Emergency Alert Test was postponed to this year.

Later this month on Thursday October 19th is the worldwide Great Shakeout earthquake drill. This test of EAS and WEA starts at 1019 AM PDT with the goal to help save lives from an earthquake by practicing drop, cover and hold under a desk, table or other sturdy items together as a group or individually.

Millions of people around the globe will again participate in this annual earthquake drill including families, businesses, schools, health care facilities, faith-based organizations, neighborhood groups and more.

To participate, register in advance at Washington Shakeout.

  Over 1.2 million people in Washington registered last year and so far this year, over one million people already have registered.  Schools use this event as their October monthly emergency drill.

Like the National Emergency Alert Test, the Great Shakeout will be initiated by the National Weather Service on NOAA Weather Radio with their EAS message airing on all radio and TV broadcasters, cable systems, as well on the all-hazard NOAA Weather Radio Network. In addition, the network of over 100 All-Hazard Alert Broadcast (AHAB) outdoor siren and speaker systems from the outer coast to the North Sound will also be activated.

Like a fire drill at school or work, the Great Shakeout offers the moment to drop, cover and hold for a minute. Have fun with the event like taking photos and videos while under a table or desk, and post them on social media, including on the everettpost.com Facebook or X (formerly known as Twitter) sites.

Washington is earthquake country, the second only to California as the most threatened state in the nation. The interior of Western Washington has a number of earthquake faults zig-zagging across the region. These faults include the South Whidbey Island fault, the Seattle fault, the Tacoma fault, and the Saddle Mountain fault. Geologic history shows all these faults can produce at least 7.0 magnitude earthquakes with substantial shaking.

And then there is the Cascadia Subduction Zone just off the Pacific Northwest coast that history shows can produce around a 9.0 magnitude quake. This subduction zone is similar to those off Japan that produced a major earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, plus off the coasts of Alaska, the west coast of South America such as Chile, and around many Pacific Ocean basin coastlines.

The Great Shakeout drill also provides the opportunity to practice your backup communication plan. An earthquake will likely occur when we are not at home, and phones and transportation corridors may no longer be accessible. Know in advance how and who to reach in case phone and power systems are out of service.

These two emergency notification tests help ensure these warning systems will be there when needed, highlight the need to receive warning messages to ensure receipt in case one or more systems are off-line, and reinforce the need for preparedness and readiness in case something unfortunate happens.