Exact date UK will hear 'warning of disaster' siren

exact date uk will hear 'warning of disaster' siren

An iPhone showing the Emergency Alerts settings

All four UK nations are set to receive a “warning of disaster” alert on their mobile phones as the Government tests a new public notification system. News of the alert was reported by the Express and Nottinghamshire Live over the weekend.

Reports suggest that a “siren-like” alert will be sent to every compatible mobile phone in the Government test. During the test period, phone users won’t be able to use other features on their devices unless they acknowledge the alert.

According to reports, “Armageddon alerts” will warn of disasters including severe weather-related events such as flooding and wildfires. The first nationwide alert is due to be sent by the Government on St George’s Day – Sunday, April 23 – when people in all four nations of the UK will receive the “siren-like” emergency warning.

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Next month’s alert will be to test the new public warning system, which has already been trialled in East Suffolk and Reading. It is understood to have the ability to get a message to 90% of mobile users within a relevant area in an emergency.

The system, which is modelled on similar schemes in the US, Canada, Netherlands and Japan, is intended to be used in life-threatening situations. The Government said it is not using individual phone numbers to send the alerts, instead a signal is sent to all compatible mobiles in areas of risk.

This means phone numbers and personal data will not be collected and people’s locations will not be tracked, according to reports. Alerts will be used very rarely – only being sent where there is an immediate risk to people’s lives – so individuals may not receive an alert for months, or even years.

The “life-saving public emergency alerts” will appear on the home screens of people’s phones, accompanied by a loud warning sound and vibration for up to 10 seconds. Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden, said: “We are strengthening our national resilience with a new emergency alerts system, to deal with a wide range of threats – from flooding to wildfires.

“It will revolutionise our ability to warn and inform people who are in immediate danger, and help us keep people safe. As we’ve seen in the US and elsewhere, the buzz of a phone can save a life.”

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. Alerts will only ever come from the Government or emergency services and they will include the details of the area affected and provide instructions about how best to respond.

Emergency alerts work on all 4G and 5G phone networks widely used by smartphones, according to the Government. Older, non smartphones are not included.

The 3G technology they use is being switched off next year. The Government maintains that anyone without a compatible device will still be informed about an emergency with the emergency services having other ways to warn of threats to life. Caroline Douglass, executive director for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management at the Environment Agency, added: “Being able to communicate warnings in a timely and accurate manner during incidents is really important to help people take action to protect themselves, their families, and their neighbours.”

How to opt out

The Cabinet Office said the alerts are secure, free to receive and one-way, insisting they do not reveal anyone’s location or collect personal data. However, if you want to opt out of the emergency alerts system, here’s what to do. Search your phone’s settings for emergency alerts, and turn off severe alerts and extreme alerts.

If you want to turn off the alerts on an iPhone, or check alerts are on, then go to settings and click on Notifications. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and you’ll see Emergency Alerts. Slide to on or off depending upon your preference.

What do you think of the system? Let us know in the comments below.


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