The new Emergency Alerts service is now live. The system will enable people to be contacted via their mobile phone if their lives are at risk in an emergency. The service will be used to warn you about life-threatening emergencies such as severe flooding.
The new service was tested nationally for the first time on 23 April 2023.
In the future you may receive an alert on your phone, if you do, please read the alert carefully and follow the instructions. Please remember their look and feel in case you receive one again. To find out more about how it works, watch the video at gov.uk/alerts.
How do alerts work?
Emergency Alert are messages sent to all compatible 4G and 5G mobile phones when there's a danger to your life, health or property in the area you are located. 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. They do not need your phone number, track your location or collect personal data. Only the Government and the emergency services can send emergency alerts.
Emergency alerts will be just one of the way the Government communicates with the public about emergency situations. So, if you do not have a mobile phone, do not worry - you will still be made aware through the media and local emergency services.
What does an alert look like?
An Emergency Alert looks sounds very different to other types of messages such as SMS 'text messages'. You will know if you get an Emergency Alert because you will hear a loud siren-like sound for up to 10 seconds 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.
The message will remain on the screen and will need to be acknowledged before you can use your phone's other features. You will also be able to check that an alert is genuine as they appear as a notification and will include a link to gov.uk/alerts.
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.
Do not place yourself in danger
If you are driving - you MUST NOT hold a mobile phone while driving or riding a motorcycle. It is illegal to do so. If you receive an alert while driving, do not pick up your phone and attempt to deal with the message. Continue driving as normal, staying in full control of your vehicle. If you feel the need to look at your phone, you must find a safe and legal place to pull over first.
If receiving an Emergency Alert on a mobile phone would alert another person to the presence of a mobile, for an example a domestic abuse victim has a concealed phone, it is possible to opt out of the system if you need your phone to stay concealed.
If you'd like to opt out search your settings for 'emergency alerts' and turn off Emergency alerts. If this does not work, please contact your device manufacturer. For further advice go to gov.uk/alerts/opt-out.
Refuge has shared a video of how to do this.
You can opt out of Emergency Alerts, however, it is strongly recommended that people do not opt out of the service, as it is intended to warn you when lives are in danger.