MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – The federal government is running the first ever nationwide test of its Emergency Alert System (EAS) Wednesday on every TV station, radio outlet, satellite service and cable system.

FEMA and the FCC will use the system to inform Americans in the event of a national emergency.

Talk shows, soap operas and every other TV and radio program across the nation will all be interrupted at exactly 2:00 p.m. eastern time Wednesday. The test will only last about 30 seconds.

“In the past if you heard it on one station you could change the channel and listen to something else. Now if you change the channel, it will be on that channel as well,” said James Barnett, Chief of Public Safety and Homeland Security, FCC.

EAS is designed to quickly alert Americans about a national emergency, like a nuclear attack, major power grid failure or catastrophic storm.

“This is to look at that one backbone system to go, can we move a warning message from the White House all the way out to the relay stations to the general public,” explained FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.

The EAS is a modern day version of the old emergency broadcast system designed to protect Americans from missiles strikes during the cold war.

The system has never been used on a national scale, but the government says this test is important to ensure it will work in the event of an emergency.

Remember, this is only a test and viewers should not pick up the phone and start calling 911 or local television and radio stations.

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