Warning ahead of Emergency Alert system trial – how it works

The UK wide test of the life-saving public Emergency Alerts system will take place at 3pm on Sunday, April 23.

Consumer experts Which? have warned the event could be a “magnet for scammers” looking to take advantage of confusion.

They are reminding people that you don’t need to take any action during the trial, and “anything that asks you to is a scam”.


A Which? warning said: “On April 23 your mobile phone or tablet will receive an alert from the government.

“Watch out for scammers and do not set anything up, do not download an app, do not click on links, do not provide any information.”

This is everything you need to know about the Emergency Alert trial taking place on Sunday.

Everyone with a mobile phone will receive an alert on their home screens along with a sound and vibration for up to ten seconds.

During this test, the public does not need to take any action, and the sound and vibration will stop automatically after ten seconds.

All people will need to do is swipe away the message or click ‘OK’ on the alert to clear their home screen.

The alert will work just like a ‘low battery’ warning or notification, and the mobile phone will continue to work as normal.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden MP 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.”

Chair of The National Fire Chiefs Council, Mark Hardingham, added: “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 please forgive us for the intrusion, because the next time you hear it – your life, and the life-saving actions of our emergency services, could depend on it.”

Similar systems are already in place in countries such as the US, Canada, Netherlands and Japan, where best practice has shown that they work more effectively in a real emergency if people have previously received a test.

The system will be used very rarely – only being sent where there is an immediate risk to people’s lives – so people may not receive an alert for months or years.

In the UK, alerts could be used to tell residents of villages being encroached by wildfires, or of severe flooding.

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