Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Wireless Emergency Alert Test Frequently Asked Questions

October 5, 2018


CONTACT: Molly Rattigan, Deputy County Executive Officer



Integrated Public Alert and Warning System  Wireless Emergency Alert Test  Frequently Asked Questions


General Information

On October 9, 2018, Napa County will be testing the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) System. Those with cell phones that are in the Napa County area on October 9, 2018 around 9:30 AM should expect to receive a test message via mobile text message. This document answers questions about this emergency test.

What is the WEA system?

During an emergency, officials need to provide the public with life-saving information quickly. WEA allows emergency officials to send alerts to all cellular phones in an immediate area. WEA is a system maintained by the Federal government. Napa County is a user of the system and does not determine the system’s functionality.

When did Napa County get WEA?

Napa County recently obtained certification to use the WEA system. In order to use the system, Napa County submitted an application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and designated officials completed courses to become certified to use the system. October 9, 2018 will be the County’s test of the system and the first time the system will be used in Napa County.

What is the difference between WEA and Nixle?

Nixle is an “opt-in” system, meaning that users sign up to receive text messages. Users may cancel their Nixle subscription at any time. WEA is a national emergency alert system. This means that a message will be sent to any compatible cell phone in the service area that is in range of an active cell phone tower.

Napa County has the ability to link WEA messages to the Nixle system. As a result, Nixle subscribers may receive the message twice.

What is the difference between the test scheduled on October 3, 2018 and the October 9, 2018 test?

The test scheduled on October 3, 2018 is a Presidential Test and will be a nationwide test. The test scheduled on October 9, 2018 is a local test for Napa County and areas immediately surrounding Napa County to test the ability of County officials to activate the system in an emergency.

Why did Napa County select October 9, 2018 as the test date?

On October 9, 2018, the Board of Supervisors will meet to acknowledge the one-year anniversary of the 2017 wildfires and receive a series of presentations on recovery efforts and steps that have been taken to improve readiness for future disasters. During this meeting, the WEA message will be sent, allowing the Board of Supervisors to evaluate the use of the system in live time. If the test needs to be delayed for any reason, the alternate date will be October 23, 2018 at 9:30 AM.

Will the WEA text message be bilingual?

No. The WEA system only allows for messages to be sent in English. The system is owned and managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Napa County cannot adapt the system to be bilingual. However, Napa County has the ability to link the WEA system to the Nixle system. Those Nixle users that have subscribed to mobile phone messages in Spanish should receive the test message twice, once in Spanish and once in English.

What will the text message say?

The WEA message will say, “TEST message Napa County.

for feedback. No other action needed.”

The Nixle message sent in Spanish will say “MENSAJE DE PRUEBA, Condado de Napa. para comentarios. No necesita hacer nada.”

What if I don’t receive the text message?

Some cellular phones allow emergency alerts to be turned off in the phone’s settings. Please check your phone’s settings. If the settings have enabled emergency text messages, please call (707) 253-1501 on October 9th to report not receiving the message.

Do I need to respond to the text message?

While no response is necessary, the link sent in the message will include a survey. We encourage taking the survey to assist with improving our emergency response.

Who do I call with questions about the Napa County WEA test?

Media inquiries can be directed to Molly Rattigan at [email protected] or (707) 253-4112. Spanish speakers can call or email Jesus Tijero at [email protected] or (707) 253-6170. A bilingual call center will be staffed on October 9th from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The call center can be reached at (707) 299-1501.