Don't panic.

Radio and television broadcasts will be interrupted at 2 p.m. Wednesday for the first test of the National Emergency Alert System. The 30-second test will affect radio, television, cable and satellite shows across the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii, and the territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

The test will help the government gauge the effectiveness of the system and determine how well it works to alert the public of national and regional emergencies. It will also help pinpoint any improvements that may need to be made.

"It's the first time that we've been involved in a national test like this," said Carbon County Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Nalesnik. "It's a learning experience. Everyone will be able to learn about the Emergency Alert System, and how to react to it. We'll all also learn how to heed the warnings and prepare to follow the instructions that would be provided on the alert system when this happens for real."

The test is being conducted by FEMA, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as part of their ongoing efforts to keep the nation safe during emergencies and strengthen our resilience against all hazards, said MaryAnn Tierney, regional administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Region III.

"This first national test will ensure the readiness of the Emergency Alert System to deliver critical life-saving information," she said.

The National Emergency Alert System is an alert and warning system that can be activated by the president, if needed, to provide information to the American public during emergencies. NOAA's National Weather Service, governors, and state and local emergency authorities also use parts of the system to issue more localized emergency alerts. The test is an important exercise in ensuring that the system is effective in communicating critical information to the public in the event of a real national emergency, said MaryAnn Tierney, regional administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Region III.

The agency encourages the public to use this event as a reminder that everyone should establish an emergency preparedness kit and emergency plan for themselves, their families, communities, and businesses. Visit www.Ready.gov for more information about how to prepare for and stay informed about what to do in the event of an actual emergency.