The federal government has scheduled a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System for 1 p.m. our time this afternoon.

The test will involve broadcast radio and television stations, cable television, satellite radio and television services and wireline video service.

Programming will be interrupted for a few minutes with a message announcing the test.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says the alert system “plays a key role in ensuring the nation is prepared for any type of hazard, and that the U.S. public can receive critical and vital information should it ever be needed.”

Similar tests are conducted frequently on the state and local level, but this is the first time the system has been tested nationwide.

So, as FEMA says, “Don’t stress, it’s only a test.” Or, you could use the test as a reminder to check for news online. Internet service is not expected to be affected by the test.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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