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On Sunday 23rd April, the UK government will be testing the Emergency Alert system. At 3pm, mobile phone and/or tablet users across the UK will receive a message on the home screen of their device. Phones will also play loud siren-like sounds, vibrate and/or read out the alert. This will last for around 10 seconds.
The text alert will read:
This is a test of Emergency Alerts, a new UK government service that will warn you if there’s a life-threatening emergency nearby.
In a real emergency, follow the instructions in the alert to keep yourself and others safe.
This is a test. You do not need to take any action.
The test is part of the government’s Emergency Alert system which warns people in the UK if there’s a danger to life nearby. Many other countries around the world have implemented the scheme, including France, America, and Japan.
The system will be used by emergency services, government departments, agencies and public bodies that deal with emergencies. It will alert people about dangers such as floods, fires, and extreme weather.
The emergency alert system works on 4G and 5G mobile phones.
iPhones running iOS 14.5 or later
Android phones and tablets running Android 11 or later
Domestic and sexual violence charity Women’s Aid have warned that the Emergency Alert system may create risk to survivors who keep a phone or device hidden from an abuser.
Lucy Hadley, head of policy at Women’s Aid, said:
“We are concerned about the impact of the emergency alerts system on survivors of domestic abuse. For many survivors, a second phone which the perpetrator does not know about is an important form of communication with friends or family – as some abusers confiscate or monitor and control their partner’s phone. It may also be their only lifeline in emergencies. The emergency alerts pose a risk, not only because an abuser could discover a survivors’ second phone, but also because they could use this as a reason to escalate abuse.”
For anyone who is concerned about their safety, Women’s Aid have created video guides to switching off emergency alerts.
Much like other phone notifications such as a low battery alert, emergency alerts can be ‘swiped’ away or dismissed by pressing ‘Ok’.
If you know someone who has limited access to the media and online, consider letting them know in advance about the emergency alert test so they are prepared, and to minimise potential feelings of alarm or distress.