The new Emergency Alerts system will enable people to be contacted via their mobile phone when lives are in danger. It will be used to warn you in the event of emergencies, such as severe flooding.
Emergency Alerts are sent to all compatible mobile phones within an area of risk. They don’t track your location, need your phone number, or collect personal data. Only the government and the emergency services will be able to send them. If you don’t have a mobile phone, you’ll still be kept informed through other channels.
If you get an Emergency Alert on your phone, you’ll hear a loud, siren-like sound. A message on your screen will tell you about the emergency and how best to respond. You’ll be able to check an alert is genuine at gov.uk/alerts.
Ahead of the system being tested on Sunday 23 April at 3pm, the Government has issued the following advice to drivers, to help keep them safe when the alert sounds.
Key messages for drivers:
You MUST NOT hold a mobile phone while driving or riding a motorcycle. It is illegal to do so. If you receive an alert while driving, do not pick up your phone and attempt to deal with the message. Continue driving as normal, staying in full control of your vehicle. If you feel the need to look at your phone, you must find a safe and legal place to pull over first.
Watch this short video created by the Government that explains the emergency alerts
Lucy Straker, campaigns manager at Brake, explained: “We always recommend that people turn off their mobile phone while driving or riding – or put it out of reach, in 'Do not disturb/Driving mode' or on silent – so that it is not a distraction. We know that any distraction that takes a driver’s mind off the road, for any length of time, is potentially lethal. In 2021, mobile phone use contributed to more than 116 fatal or serious collisions on UK roads.
“With the emergency alert test, it is important that people know when it is happening (3pm on Sunday 23 April) so if they have to drive or ride at that time, they are prepared and understand how to respond.
“If your phone is switched on, the alert will play for 10 seconds. If you are driving when the alert occurs, please do not look at or touch your phone until you have safely parked your vehicle and turned off your engine.
“We would also recommend fleet managers inform their drivers of the alert and, if possible, schedule journeys to avoid driving when the alert takes place.”
Find out more about the emergency alerts at gov.uk/alerts.