What is the UK Government mobile alert and when is the test?

The UK Government is set to conduct a test run of the new UK Emergency Alerts system on iOS and Android devices this weekend. 

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the alert, including what it is, when the test is taking place and what to expect. 

What is the UK Government mobile alert? 

The UK Emergency Alerts system is a new Government-run service designed to notify those in the UK of any situations which might pose a danger to life nearby. This includes instances of severe flooding, fires and extreme weather. 

Alerts will be sent to mobile phones and tablets by emergency services, as well as government departments, agencies and public bodies that deal with emergencies. If your device does sound with an alert, you should stop what you’re doing and follow the instructions in the alert. 

Emergency alerts aren’t a new invention, with the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan already having successfully implemented systems elsewhere in the world. 

If you haven’t already heard, the UK Government is set to run a country-wide test of the service this weekend. Scroll down to learn more about the test, including when it’ll take place, what it’ll sound like and which devices will receive it. 

When is the test? 

The UK-wide test alert is scheduled to take place at 3pm on Sunday 23rd April. 

What does it sound like? 

You can expect to hear a loud siren-like sound when the alert is sent out on Sunday. The alert will override any silent settings you might have on your phone or tablet, meaning you’ll hear it even if your phone is on silent. 

Your device might also vibrate and read out the alert to you, while those who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or partially sighted can expect to receive audio and vibration attention signals to notify them of the emergency alert. 

The alert is set to last for about 10 seconds. Thankfully, you can cut it short by tapping OK or swiping the message away. 

Which phones will it work on? 

The UK Emergency Alerts system is compatible with all iPhones running iOS 14.5 or later and all Android phones and tablets running Android 11 or later. 

Some older Androids may also be able to receive emergency alerts, but you’ll have to check your device settings to find out. 

Can I opt out of emergency alerts? 

You can choose to switch all emergency alerts off on your device, though, for obvious reasons, the government doesn’t recommend doing so as it could mean missing out on future alerts if you neglect to switch it back on. Instead, it recommends turning off your device or switching on airplane mode if you don’t want Sunday’s alert to sound. 

However, for people hiding secret devices in domestic abuse situations, the alert could give away the locations of those devices and put victims in real danger. Head to domestic abuse charity Refuge’s page on emergency alerts for further advice.

To learn how to switch off government emergency alerts, you can also visit our guides for iOS and for Android.

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