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Sept. 20 at 11:18 am: 'This is the first time a wireless alert has been tested in Oregon'

Watch your phone at 11:18 a.m. on Thursday, September 20. That's when the first-ever test of the national Wireless Emergency Alert System is scheduled to take place, sending a test message to mobile devices. (OOEM)

EUGENE, Ore. - Watch your phone at 11:18 a.m. on Thursday, September 20.

That's when the first-ever test of the national Wireless Emergency Alert System is scheduled to take place, sending a test message to mobile devices.

“This is the first time a wireless alert has been tested in Oregon, and we don't want anyone to be caught off guard,” said Andrew Phelps, Oregon Office of Emergency Management director. “No matter where someone is — at work, in their car, at school, at the doctor’s office, anywhere — they should hear and see the alert on their phone."

Two minutes later, the national Emergency Alert System will occur via radio and TV, the fourth such national test.

"The nationwide test ensures that in times of an emergency or disaster, public safety officials have methods and systems that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public," the Oregon Office of Emergency Management said in a statement.

Alerts are rare, but can happen locally, statewide, or nationally. In addition, the test is a way to assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message, and determine whether technological improvements are needed. A nationwide WEA message would only be used in the most extreme emergency situation.

This test is being conducted by FEMA in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission. You can learn more online.

FEMA says phone customers will not be charged for the messages.

The messages will only be in English, the agency said.

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