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About EAS

Emergency Alert System

The Federal Communications (FCC) established the Emergency Alert System (EAS) in November 1994. Using new digital technology, the EAS replaced the old Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) as a tool to warn the public about emergencies.

The most common use of the EAS is by the National Weather Service to warn local communities about severe weather warnings. You have probably heard radio stations interrupt their programming to broadcast a tornado warning or seen a TV station or cable system run a "crawl" across the bottom of the TV screen about a severe thunderstorm. That's EAS.

EAS can be activated nationally by the President of the United States, statewide by the Governor, or locally by authorized city or county officials for other emergencies, ranging from earthquakes to forest fires or hazardous material releases to nuclear war.

In February 2002 the FCC amended its rules for the Emergency Alert System to add a new Child Abduction Emergency (CAE) event code which may be used to activate the Amber Alert Plan messages. The FCC has "strongly encouraged" radio, TV stations and cable outlets to voluntarily use the new CAE event code as soon as their EAS encode/decode equipment can be modified.

The majority of Indiana broadcasters will be using the "Civil Emergency" code for future "Amber" alerts until all EAS equipment manufacturers have produced the new Amber software.

State EAS Plans are developed by a State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), while Local EAS Plans are developed by Local Emergency Communications Committee (LECC). Both committees are composed of National Weather Service representatives, emergency management officials, radio-TV broadcasters and cable system operators.

The FCC and SEMA have divided the state into several Local Operational Areas. Within each Local Operational Area, the FCC and LECC have designated at least two Local Primary stations to receive local EAS activation requests from the National Weather Service and authorized city, county, or state officials.

Local Primary Stations broadcast each EAS message with an 8-second warning tone and three short bursts of digital data. These data bursts summarize the emergency and trip EAS receivers located at every other radio, TV and cable outlet in the Local Operational Area so they can voluntarily re-broadcast the state or local EAS message delivered by the Local Primary Stations.

In some states or local areas, the SEMA or LECC has authorized activation of the EAS for reports about missing children believe to be abducted.

If your state or local area is not listed, you can e-mail the FCC to request:

  • The name, address and telephone number of the SEMA or LECC Chairman for your geographic area

  • The contact person and call letters of the Local Primary stations that serve your geographic area.

  • A copy of your Local EAS Plan to find out if EAS can be activated for reports about abducted children.

You can call the FCC's Emergency Alert System office @ 202-418-0500