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National Emergency Alerts

The government is introducing an Emergency Alert system so they can warn you if there's an emergency nearby. This system is being tested on 23 April 2023 at 3pm BST. 

What is the National Emergency Alert?

The government is introducing an Emergency Alert system nationally so they can warn you if there’s an emergency nearby which might put your life in danger, such as flooding or extreme weather. It may also be used if there’s a national emergency, such as a public health emergency.

This system is being tested on 23 April 2023 at 3pm BST. Everyone with a mobile phone that’s compatible with 4G or 5G will receive a test alert.

What happens when I receive a test emergency alert?

When you receive any alert, including the test alert, your phone will give off a loud noise which sounds like a siren – this will happen even if your phone is on silent. Your phone will also read out the alert and vibrate. This will last for about 10 seconds.

There'll also be a message on the screen of your phone with instructions about what you should do next. This alert, and future alerts, may also include a link to the GOV.UK website or a phone number so you can get more information.

If you’re driving when you receive an alert, you shouldn’t respond to it until it’s safe and legal to do so.

Watch a video of an example of an emergency alert on YouTube

How will I be sent an emergency alert?

Everyone with a compatible mobile phone will be sent an emergency alert. But these alerts will only ever be sent by emergency services or government departments and relevant public bodies that respond to emergencies.

You don’t have to give your mobile phone number or any personal information to receive these alerts.

In the event of an emergency, the alert is sent based on your current location – it isn’t based on where you live.

Should I be worried about the test emergency alert?

No, there’s nothing to worry about when you receive the test alert on 23 April – though it may feel a bit unsettling. This alert is just a test.

But if you know someone that may not be aware of the test on 23 April, it’s a good idea to let them know to avoid any unnecessary worry or distress.

Do I have to receive the emergency alerts?

While the system has been designed to help keep people safe and assist the response of emergency services, you don’t have to receive these alerts.

There may be certain circumstances when you think it would be best to turn off these alerts – either for yourself or a family member. While this isn’t recommended, it’s a personal choice.

To turn off these alerts:

  • If you have an Apple mobile phone: go to Settings > Notifications > Extreme Alerts
  • If you have an Android mobile phone: go to Settings > Sound and Vibration > More Sound Settings > Cell Broadcasts > Emergency Alerts

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Last updated: Apr 08 2024

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