Those in Prince William County and the rest of the National Capital Region who have a cell phone or mobile device will get a test alert between 10 and 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 5.
Twenty jurisdictions will simultaneously issue a test message to the public through the Wireless Emergency Alerts, or WEA, system, which will come as a text message accompanied by a loud noise. Those in Prince William County will receive an alert containing the following message: "A test of the Prince William County Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action required."
Along with Prince William County, the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park, and Arlington, Loudoun and Fairfax counties in Virginia; the cities of Bowie, College Park, Gaithersburg, Greenbelt, Rockville and Takoma Park in Maryland, as well as Charles, Frederick, Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland; and the District of Columbia will also participate in the test.
Individuals do not sign up to receive a WEA alert. If their WEA-enabled cell phone or mobile device is located in the target location, they will receive an alert. Some people may receive more than one alert if they are traveling between multiple jurisdictions in the National Capital Region during the time the alert is issued.
The WEA system is a public safety system that allows people with mobile devices to receive text-like messages targeted to their geographic areas to warn of threats to safety. There are three types of messages that are sent through WEA: extreme weather and other threatening emergencies in an area, AMBER alerts and Presidential alerts during a national emergency.
Local governments need to periodically test alerts and warnings to assess their systems, identify shortcomings and make any needed improvements. Testing allows public safety officials the opportunity to make sure they have reliable methods and systems to deliver urgent warnings and alerts to the public in time of emergency or disaster.
For more information about WEA, visit the FCC website at https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/wireless-emergency-alerts-wea.