When is the Emergency Alert in the UK? Date, time and how to turn it off

Here's what to expect

a split template showing a mobile phone and a red emergency alert
(Image credit: Future/Getty)

The government have confirmed it will take place this week - here's when the Emergency Alert will go off in the UK, alongside all the other essential information about the new scheme.

It's a system currently in operation in countries like Canada and America, and now Brits are getting ready for the Emergency Alert system to launch in the UK, with a test run taking place on mobile phones later this week.

The Government have said that the new Emergency Alert system is designed to warn the public to any current or forthcoming dangers such as extreme weather. The new scheme has not come without criticism though, with refuge charities concerned for those with hidden devices and what the consequences could mean for the individual. We've shared everything you need to know about the Emergency Alert.

When is the Emergency Alert in the UK?

The UK government's emergency alert will sound at 3pm on Sunday 23 April 2023. Your phone will make a "loud siren-like" sound and vibrate for ten seconds (even if on silent mode). 

According to the government website, a message will pop up at the same time as the alert sounds, which will read: "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."

How to turn the Emergency Alert off:

To turn the Emergency Alert off, all you need to do is press 'OK' or swipe away the message on your phone. You will then be able to continue using your phone as normal.

Similarly, if you don't wish to receive the Emergency Alert altogether - you can simply turn your phone off ahead of 3pm. Switched off phones will not receive the Emergency Alert.

Domestic Abuse charity Women's Aid have shared a helpful guide for how to turn off the Emergency Alert completely - so you won't receive it. The charity is particularly concerned for the welfare of individuals in abusive relationships who have a secondary or secret mobile phone in case of emergencies and the alert revealing this to the abuser.

  • iPhone users can switch the alert off by going to Settings > Notifications. Scroll to the bottom and turn off the toggle for 'Extreme Alerts'.
  • Android users can switch the alert off by going to Settings > Notifications > Advanced Settings > Wireless Emergency Alerts. Then turn off the toggle for 'Allow Alerts'.

Emma Pickering, Senior Operations Tech Abuse Manager at Refuge, said: "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."

Why are we getting an Emergency Alert?

The Emergency Alert on April 23, is a test of a new UK government system that plans to warn the public if there’s a danger to life nearby. When an emergency situation occurs, your mobile phone will receive an alert with advice about how to stay safe.

Examples of when you might receive an Emergency Alert in the future include: severe flooding, fires and extreme weather. The Alerts will only be sent by the emergency services or a relevant government organisation that deals with emergencies.

"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," says Oliver Dowden MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Emergency Alerts are already in place in other countries across the world, such as the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan. They've been used to warn the public during severe weather events. Most recently, France and Greece used Emergency Alerts to warn relevant parts of the population about wildfires in Europe in 2022.

"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," reads the government website.

The government state that the system will be used very rarely - "only being sent where there is an immediate risk to people’s lives". As such people may not receive an Emergency Alert for months or years.

Video of the Week

Emily Stedman
Features Editor

Emily Stedman is the former Features Editor for GoodTo covering all things TV, entertainment, royal, lifestyle, health and wellbeing. Boasting an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things TV, celebrity and royals, career highlights include working at HELLO! Magazine and as a royal researcher to Diana biographer Andrew Morton on his book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. In her spare time, Emily can be found eating her way around London, swimming at her local Lido or curled up on the sofa binging the next best Netflix show.