UK to trial new Emergency Alerts

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The UK Wide Emergency Alert will be sent out on Sunday 23 April

Future alerts would be used to notify residents of issues such as wildfire or flooding

The UK government has released the text of the alert that will be sent out during the Emergency Alerts system test, set to take place on Sunday 23 April at 3pm. The test will see people receive a message on the home screen of their mobile phone, accompanied by a sound and vibration for up to ten seconds.

The message 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. Visit for more information. This is a test. You do not need to take any action.”

During the test, the public will not need to take any action, and the sound and vibration will stop automatically after ten seconds. People can simply swipe away the message or click ‘OK’ on their phone’s home screen and continue using their phone as normal.

The government has noted that Emergency Alerts work more effectively during a real emergency if people have previously received a test alert, so they know what an alert looks and sounds like.

Oliver Dowden MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has stated that the Emergency Alerts system is a vital tool to keep the public safe in life-threatening emergencies. Emergency Alerts have already been used successfully in other countries, including the US, Canada, the Netherlands, and Japan, where it has been credited with saving lives during severe weather events.

In the UK, Emergency Alerts could be used to notify residents of villages being encroached by wildfires or of severe flooding.

Inconvenient but important

Chief Fire Officer Alex Woodman, Lead for Local Resilience Forums at the National Fire Chiefs Council, commented: We must use every tool at our disposal to keep people safe, and we need everyone to play their part – and the new Emergency Alerts system is one way we can do this. For 10 seconds, the national test may be inconvenient for some, but it’s important, because the next time you hear it – your life, and the life-saving actions of our emergency services, could depend on it.

The Government worked with the emergency services and partners, including the Football Association and London Marathon, to make sure the national test has minimum impact on major events taking place on the day.

At every stage, the Government has worked with organisations and charities who represent vulnerable groups to make sure they are not adversely affected. Women and girls who are subject to domestic abuse and have concealed phones can opt-out of the national test either by turning off Emergency Alerts in their phone settings or by switching their phone off.

Only sent when there is an immediate risk

The Government has worked with the transport sector and organisations such as Highways England to make sure drivers are aware of the alert and they follow the normal rules as when receiving any phone call or message; that they do not look or touch their phone until it is safe to do so.

Emergency Alerts will transform the UK’s warning and informing capability; by working with mobile broadcasting technology it will provide a means to get urgent messages quickly to nearly 90 percent of mobile phones in a defined area when there is a risk to life, and provide clear instructions about how best to respond.

The system will be used very rarely – only being sent where there is an immediate risk to people’s lives – so people may not receive an alert for months or years.

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