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National Emergency Alerts

Community trigger

An emergency alerts system is being launched by the UK Government to warn people, through their mobile phone or device, about serious nearby imminent risk to life, such as wildfires or severe flooding. This is similar to those used by other countries across the world.

The Government will be testing this system across the UK on mobile phones on Sunday, 23 April at 3pm.

Easy Read Document

Download Easy Read - UK Government Emergency Alert (PDF) [485KB]

Community languages

In partnership with the UK Government, the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership, has published fact sheets in a number of community languages , you can download these documents below:

What will Emergency Alerts be like? 

An Emergency Alert looks and sounds very different to other types of notifications or messages such as SMS 'text messages'.

In an emergency, your mobile phone or tablet will, depending on its settings: 

  • make a unique loud siren-like sound, even if it's set to silent
  • vibrate
  • read out the alert the sound and vibration will last for about 10 seconds.

If you receive an alert, it may also include a phone number or a link to the GOV.UK website for more information.

How do alerts work?

In an emergency, mobile phone masts in the surrounding area will broadcast an alert. Compatible mobile phones or tablets in range of the mast will receive the alert.

You do not need to turn on location services to receive alerts and the Government does not know your phone number or location. 

Data about you, your device or location will not be collected or shared.

What do I need to do when I get an alert?

When you get an alert, stop what you're doing (when it is safe to do so) and follow the instructions in the alert.

If you're driving or riding, as when receiving any phone call or message, do not look at or touch your phone until it is safe to do so.

Is my privacy and security protected?

Yes - Emergency Alerts require no personal information (such as telephone number, identity or location).

The technology used allows a message to be broadcast to a defined area, meaning any compatible device in or entering that area immediately receives the message.

Emergency alerts are therefore one-way and do not provide any feedback on the recipients' location or whether they have received an alert.

The recipients' telephone numbers and specific locations are not required, known or used, and no personal information on recipients of Emergency Alerts is shared by the Mobile Network Operators and no personal information is gathered by the government or the Mobile Network Operators. 

I am visually impaired. Will I know when I receive an Emergency Alert?

Compatible phones will use a loud, siren-like sound and a unique vibration. Depending on your phone's features and settings, the alert will work with screen magnification and may read the message out for you.

I am hearing impaired. Will I know when I receive an Emergency Alert?

The alert will have a unique vibration. The unique noise emitted by the phone should be audible for those who use a hearing aid. The alert will also flash up on the phone screen.

I am concerned about someone who may be distressed by this type of alert. What can I do to help?

Please raise awareness with people that you know by sharing information about the Emergency Alert System and about the test on Sunday 23 April at 3pm to help others to prepare for these alerts.

Can I unsubscribe from emergency alerts?

You can opt out of the emergency alerts system in your phone's settings, just search for "emergency alerts", and turn off 'severe alerts' and 'extreme alerts'. You will not receive alerts if your device is turned off or in airplane mode.

However, these alerts are potentially life-saving so it is recommended you keep them switched on.

Switching off the Emergency Alerts system if you are experiencing Domestic Abuse

To avoid being put at risk, people experiencing domestic abuse, who for their safety have a secret or secondary mobile phone, are being advised to turn off Emergency Alerts.

This is because the alert will play a sound even if the phone is on silent. The alert will play a loud siren and vibrate, and the phone will not be useable until the alert is acknowledged.

View the YouTube video below, created by Refuge which explains how you can turn alerts off, both on Android phones and on iPhones.

More information

Please share this information with your friends, family and neighbours.

For more information about the Emergency alerts System and the test on Sunday, 23 April at 3pm visit the government's website.

Visit GOV.UK - about Emergency Alerts

How emergency alerts works - YouTube Video

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