At 3pm on Sunday 23 April, a test alert will be conducted that will display a message, along with a sound and vibration for up to ten seconds, on the home screen of people’s mobile phones.
The message will say:
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 gov.uk/alerts for more information.
This is a test. You do not need to take any action.
During the test, there is no need for the public to take any action as the sound and vibration will automatically stop after ten seconds. To continue using their phone as usual, people simply need to swipe away the message or click on ‘OK’ on their phone’s home screen, similar to a ‘low battery’ warning or notification.
Best practice of Emergency Alerts in other countries have shown that they work more effectively when there is a real emergency if people have previously received a test, so they know what an alert looks and sounds like.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden MP, said, “At 3pm next Sunday we’ll be doing a nationwide test of our new Emergency Alerts system.
“Getting this system operational means we have a vital tool to keep the public safe in life-threatening emergencies. It could be the sound that saves your life.
“Emergency Alerts have already been used successfully in a number of other countries, including the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan, where it has been widely credited with saving lives, for example, during severe weather events. In the UK, alerts could be used to tell residents of villages being encroached by wildfires, or of severe flooding.”
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 has worked together 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 that represent vulnerable groups to make sure they are not adversely affected.
People 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.
Emma Pickering, Senior Operations Tech Abuse Manager at Refuge, said, “These alerts will come through as a loud siren even if devices are on silent, and could alert an abuser to a concealed device. Refuge’s Technology-Facilitated Abuse and Economic Empowerment Team have put together two videos on how to turn these alerts off, both on Android phones and on iPhones for anyone that is concerned that these alerts will put their safety at risk.
“We want to ensure as many survivors as possible know how to ensure these alerts are turned off on their hidden devices. We have more information on securing your devices – for example your location settings or privacy settings – on refugetechsafety.org “
The Government has also 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.