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Details of next week’s UK mobile emergency alert system test released

16 Apr 2023 3 minute read
Emergency alert

A message will appear alongside a loud alarm on millions of mobile phones across the UK at 3pm on April 23 in a nationwide test of a new public alert system.

The system is intended to be used in life-threatening situations including flooding and wildfires.

The UK Government has released the text that will pop up on people’s home screens next Sunday.

The message will be received on 4G and 5G mobile phones, along with sound and vibration for up to 10 seconds even if devices are on silent.

It 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 for more information.

“This is a test. You do not need to take any action.”


Phone users will be prompted to swipe away the message or clicking “OK” on their home screen before being able to continue using their device.

Drivers are advised not to look at or touch their phone until it is safe, just as when receiving any call or message.

The system is modelled on similar schemes in the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden 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.”


Domestic violence campaigners have warned the test could put people in danger by revealing the location of secret phones hidden away by those at risk.

The Government said it has been actively engaging with organisations working with vulnerable women and girls to ensure they are not adversely affected by the introduction of emergency alerts.

Officials stressed that it is easy to opt out of the system if people need their phone to stay concealed, either by turning off emergency alerts in their settings or simply having the phone switched off during the test.

The test on St George’s Day coincides with major events including the London Marathon and the 2pm kick-off Premier League ties between Bournemouth and West Ham and Newcastle and Tottenham Hotspur.

Officials said they have worked with the Football Association and the Marathon’s organisers to make sure the impact of the test will be limited.

Chief fire officer Alex Woodman, from the National Fire Chiefs’ Council, said: “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.”

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1 year ago

Turned all off, I choose how my device works for me. Not some creepy tory

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 year ago

‘We must use every tool at our disposal to keep people safe’ says a Tory whose party endangers life by underfunding all emergency services and leaves no stone unturned in depriving millions of the cash they need to live on by channeling it all into the accounts of private shareholders then openly denigrating the existence of food banks which exist to save people from THEIR evil inhumanity. It sounds like their hostility to the outside world has resulted in having to be on a war footing and this test is the equivalent of an air raid siren. It’s always what… Read more »

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 year ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Denigrates that should read but I also failed to mention the proliferation of hatred towards so many groups of people that many are under threat of, and indeed are enduring, physical attacks as a direct result of their sick narrative so don’t give me ‘keep people safe’ ok?

George Thomas
George Thomas
1 year ago

It seems to be a major flaw that if you’re in a situation where you don’t want people knowing about your phone, you should turn off emergency alerts. I’ve not looked into it, and am not drawing a conclusion until I do, but doesn’t this suggest the emergency alert works well for natural disasters but fails completely for terror attacks where people might be hiding? My next question would be what happens if I’m using the phone at 3pm and will my use by disrupted by this alert until I click ok? I’m sure this has been thought of but… Read more »

Doctor Trousers
1 year ago

“The message will be received on 4G and 5G” So in a real emergency, you’re a bit screwed if you’re in one of the many rural areas that still don’t have 4G, then? The kneejerk reaction amongst some, of disabling emergency alerts in your phone, just because something feels vaguely, non-specifically a bit ‘big brothery’ about it, is somewhat silly though. If there’s a hidden motive here, then it’s more along the lines of a propaganda exercise in portraying the government as prepared and capable of handling a large scale emergency, through a drill that actually involves fairly little effort… Read more »

1 year ago

Radio is opt in, keep this the same. Some of us cannot use a phone in work, but have linked to a watch to read only real emergency messages if needed. So me turning this on would disturb my workplace and get me trouble or mean phone off. This will cause people problems, because people will not understand if they didn’t opt in. Sudden noise out of nowhere is not clever.

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