STAY STRONG

There’s challenge in every life, every day. This is only a test; if it had been . .

I remember it when I see the storm warning crawl across the screen, right before the picture flickers out. Do you remember it, too? I’d be listening to the radio and I would hear a very disturbing tone, followed by this announcement: “This is only a test. If it had been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed to tune to . . . .”

I don’t think I have ever heard the real emergency instructions, but we have all heard the practice signals and the test announcements. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) was put into place on January 1, 1997, and approved by the FCC in November, 1994. There had been earlier versions like the Emergency Broadcast System and the Conelrad system.

The EAS allows public officials to speak directly to citizens, and also provides warnings of local weather emergencies — like tornadoes, flash floods, or severe thunderstorms. Coordination is provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, The Federal Communications Commission, and the National Weather Service. EAS messages are transmitted on radio stations, television channels, cellular telephones, and many other communications systems. Participation has been required since May 31, 2007.

Everyone is advised to have an emergency plan in place — just in case. And while it is better to be safe than sorry, there is some appeal in being brave enough to experience the storms of nature and the storms of life — for myself, on my own terms.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” T.S. Eliot, preface to Transit of Venus: Poems by Harry Crosby (1931)