City to conduct a limited test of the Wireless Emergency Alert system on July 25 as part of West Seattle High-Rise Bridge emergency planning

Updated on 7/23/2020 with information about test scheduled for 7/25/2020. Initial post included information for WEA test on 6/26/2020.

On July 25 at 12 noon, the City of Seattle Office of Emergency Management will send a test message through the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system.

This test is not linked to any specific action or report related to the condition of the West Seattle Bridge.  This test is part of our proactive contingency planning to prepare for unanticipated changes in the bridge that may require an evacuation of community members on Harbor Island.  The objective of the test is to assess the ability for those in the impacted zone to receive a message using Wireless Emergency Alerts.    

The alert will only be sent to those who have opted in to receive local test messages through WEA, and to a small geographic area under and near the West Seattle Bridge. The message will state: “This is a test of Wireless Emergency Alerts by the City of Seattle. No action is required.”

The national WEA system is an essential part of the City’s emergency preparedness and response. This public safety system allows customers who own compatible devices to receive geographically targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. The most common example of these alerts is the “Amber Alerts” sent by Washington State Patrol that directly ping mobile phones.  

This is the second test to be conducted as a part of the West Seattle Bridge planning. The first test was conducted on June 26.

Though not predicted, the City has emergency plans in place to use the WEA and AlertSeattle systems among other methods to notify people under or near the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge in the event of an immediate collapse.

The City has successfully used the system several times in 2020, though it is important to test the geographical capabilities of the system to ensure the correct area is targeted. Twenty volunteers from Seattle’s Office of Emergency Management Auxiliary Communication Services will stage in locations on and surrounding Harbor Island during the test to confirm receipt of the message. Results will be collected by Seattle OEM to determine the reach of the system.  

Mobile phone users who are in the geographical area and would like to receive the test message must take steps to enable the option on their phone.

The capability of a phone to receive local test messages depends on the brand and model, as well as phone carrier. Review the instruction manual for the phone for information on how to enable this feature.

Basic information for Apple and Android Phones is below:  

Apple iPhone:  

  • To turn it on: Enter *5005*25371# and tap the green phone icon. You’ll get an alert that says “Test alerts enabled.”  
  • To turn it off: Enter *5005*25370# and tap the green phone icon. You’ll get an alert that says “Test alerts disabled.”  

Androids: 

  • Go to “Settings” > “Apps and Notifications” > “Advanced” > “Wireless Emergency Alerts” and then switch “State/local test” option to ON. 
     

Members of the public are encouraged to proactively sign-up for AlertSeattle to receive emergency notifications from the City of Seattle: alert.seattle.gov.  

For questions about the June 26 WEA test:  

Ken Neafcy, Seattle Office of Emergency Management  

Kenneth.neafcy@seattle.gov  

For questions about Seattle Fire’s role in West Seattle Bridge emergency planning:  

Kristin Tinsley , Seattle Fire Department 

SFDPIO@seattle.gov