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About Governments Emergency Alerts

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The UK Government launch new Emergency Alerts system.

On the 19th March the UK Government launched a new Emergency Alerts service - What does this mean for mobile users who have hearing or sight impairments?

The new system will enable people to be contacted via their mobile phone automatically when lives are in danger. An alert will be sent to all compatible mobile phones within an area of risk or nationally, if applicable, using mobile cell towers. Your mobile phone will make a loud siren-like sound and a message will appear on screen to tell you about the emergency as well as how best to respond and stay safe. The message will remain on your screen until you acknowledge it.

Please note: If you’re deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or partially sighted, audio and vibration attention signals will let you know you have an emergency alert.

If you do not have a compatible mobile*, you will still be kept informed through other channels such as TV, radio or online.

Currently, as we understand it, the alerts will be activated on all 4G handsets. However, It is also possible that alerts will come through on other 2G and 3G handsets, but 4G and 5G devices have been prioritised by the Government testing for now.

Reasons you might get an alert

  • Severe flooding
  • Fires
  • Extreme weather
  • Public health emergencies

Emergency alerts will only be sent by:

  • The emergency services
  • Government departments, agencies and public bodies that deal with emergencies

What happens when you get an emergency alert

Your mobile phone or tablet may:

  • Make a loud siren-like sound, even if it’s set on silent
  • Vibrate
  • Read out the alert

The sound and vibration will last for about 10 seconds.

An alert will include a phone number or a link to the GOV.UK website for more information. You can check if an alert is genuine by visiting www.gov.uk/alerts.

You’ll get alerts based on your current location - not where you live or work. You do not need to turn on location services to receive alerts. Please note that this doesn't track your location, need your phone number or collect personal data. Only the Government and the emergency services can send the alerts.


What you need to do

When you get an alert, stop what you’re doing and follow the instructions in the alert.

If you’re driving or riding when you get an alert

  • You should not read or otherwise respond to an emergency alert whilst driving or riding a motorcycle.
  • If you are driving, you should continue to drive and not respond to the noise or attempt to pick up the mobile phone and deal with the message.
  • Find somewhere safe and legal to stop before reading the message. If there is nowhere safe or legal to stop close by, and nobody else is in the vehicle to read the alert, tune into live radio and wait for bulletins until you can find somewhere safe and legal to stop.

It is illegal to use a hand-held device while driving or riding.

If you cannot receive emergency alerts

If you do not have a compatible device, you’ll still be informed about an emergency. The emergency services have other ways to warn you when there is a threat to life.

Emergency alerts will not replace local news, radio, television or social media.

If you’re deaf, hard of hearing, blind or partially sighted

If you have a vision or hearing impairment, audio and vibration attention signals will let you know you have an emergency alert.

Alert languages

Emergency alerts will be sent in English. In Wales, they may also be sent in Welsh.

Example of an emergency alert

YouTube video for Government Emergency Alerts example

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