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Everything you need to know about the UK's emergency alert test

Everything you need to know about the UK's emergency alert test

Related video: Listen to what the government emergency alarm sent to phones will sound like

On the 23 April, your smartphone will emit a “loud siren-like sound” and vibrate away for around 10 seconds – and it’s at 3pm.

If you missed the news last month, that’ll be when the UK Government does a nationwide test of the new emergency alerts system designed to warn citizens of an “imminent risk to life”, such as “wildfires or severe flooding”.

It comes after the system was trialled in East Suffolk and Reading in 2021.

No action is required when the message is received, though while the sound and vibration will stop automatically after 10 seconds, individuals won’t be able to access their phone’s other features until they’ve acknowledged the alert – so, like a ‘low battery’ notification, for example.

The exact wording of the message has also been confirmed, with the alert saying: “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 an actual emergency, follow the instructions in the alert to keep yourself and others safe. Visit for more information.

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

In a statement on Thursday – when a smaller test of the system took place – Oliver Dowden, the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said: “Put the date in your diaries – at 3pm on 23 April, we’ll be testing our new national Emergency Alerts system.

“Getting this system operational with the national test means we have another tool in our toolkit to keep the public safe in life-threatening emergencies. It could be the sound that saves your life.”

News of it taking place in the afternoon comes after discussion about whether it would affect the London Marathon or the FA Cup semi-final match between Manchester United and Brighton – both also scheduled for 23 April.

Mr Dowden told BBC News: “We chose the afternoon for it because that is quieter than the morning when people are more likely to be shopping or attending church services," said the minister.

However, concerns have also been raised around the alert system revealing a “secret” or “secondary” phone used by survivors of domestic abuse to perpetrators, with charities calling on individuals to turn off the alerts on such phones if they have them:

Anyone can turn off the alerts if they don’t want to receive them by going to their phone’s settings and toggling off “extreme” and “severe” alerts.

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