Government to send test alert message to every UK mobile phone

Released: Friday, 14 April 2023

The government's new Emergency Alerts system is live and will enable people to be contacted via their mobile phone when lives are in danger. The service will be used to warn you about life-threatening emergencies such as severe flooding.

Emergency alerts are messages sent to all compatible 4G and 5G mobile phones when there's a danger to your life in the area you're located. They don't need your phone number or track your location and only the government and the emergency services can send them.

The government will be testing the service nationally on Sunday 23rd April 2023 at 3pm. If you receive a test alert on your phone, you won't need to do anything, just remember their look and feel in case you receive one again.

You'll be able to check that an alert is genuine:

Emergency alerts will be just one of the ways the government communicates with the public about emergency situations, so if you don't have a mobile phone, don't worry - you'll still be made aware through the media and local emergency services.

An emergency alert looks and sounds very different to other types of messages such as SMS text messages.

You'll know if you get an emergency alert because you'll hear a loud siren-like sound and your phone will use a distinct vibration. A message on your screen will tell you about the emergency and what you need to do.

Depending on your phone's features, the alert will work with screen magnification and may read the message out for you, having also overridden volume settings. The unique noise emitted by the phone should also be audible for those who use a hearing aid.

You can opt out of emergency alerts, but the government strongly recommends that people do not opt out of the service, as it is intended to warn you when lives are in danger.

If you'd like to opt out, search your settings for 'emergency alerts' and turn off “severe alerts” and “extreme alerts”. If this does not work, please contact your device manufacturer. For further advice see:

PR23-050 - UK government - National Emergency Alerts banner - 23rd April 2023

(PR23-050)

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Page last updated: 20 February 2024

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