UK emergency alert test: how to dismiss message, how long will noise last for?
Text will be sent to millions of phones across the country on Sunday afternoon
and live on Freeview channel 276
The public have been assured they can “simply swipe away” a test of a new public alert system when it emits a loud alarm on millions of phones on Sunday.
Oliver Dowden, the newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister, said no action was needed but in the future it might be the “sound that could save your life”. The trial of a system designed to warn the public if there is a danger to life nearby will last for about 10 seconds at 3pm, with the alert being sent to every 4G and 5G device across the UK.
Once established, the system is intended to be used in life-threatening situations including flooding and wildfires. Dowden — who held on to his role as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster after being promoted on Friday to Deputy Prime Minister following Dominic Raab’s resignation after a report into bullying accusations — said: “Keep calm and carry on — that is the British way and it is exactly what the country will do when they receive this test alert at 3pm today.
“The Government’s number one job is to keep people safe and this is another tool in the toolkit for emergency situations, such as flooding or wildfires, and where there is a genuine risk to life. So it really is the sound that could save your life.
“I would encourage people to remember that today it is just a test; there is no need to take any action and you can simply swipe it away as you would any other message you receive.”
Can you opt out?
People who do not wish to receive the alerts will be able to opt out in their device settings, but officials hope the life-saving potential of the messages means users will keep them on. Phones that are off or in airplane mode will not receive an alert.
The Cabinet Office compared the testing of the alert to a one-off fire drill. The department said the siren-like sound will be no more prominent than the loudest ringtone setting on a mobile.
How to dismiss alert once its received
Phone users will be prompted to acknowledge the alert by swiping or clicking the message before being able to continue.
The test 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.”
Alarm system ‘not nanny state interference’
Oliver Dowden conceded the loud alarm that is due to ring on millions of mobile phones at 3pm would be “a bit inconvenient and annoying”, as well as “irritating”. But he said the warning system was not an over-reaching of the state as it “could be the sound that saves your life” in the future.
He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme that during that local test, which covered a section of the M4 motorway, there “wasn’t any panic at all” among recipients.