19 April 2023

UK emergency alert: stay safe

By Emma George, Family Solicitor, Hayes + Storr.

The Government have announced that this Sunday (23rd April 2023) at 3pm they will test a new emergency alert on every mobile phone in the UK. A message will appear on the home screens of mobile phones and tablets, accompanied by a loud siren-like sound or vibration lasting for about 10 seconds.

Using location technology on 4G and 5G phone networks, the new UK-wide emergency alert system is intended for future use to warn the public that there is a danger to life nearby. The alerts will initially focus on serious weather-related events i.e. flooding, fire and extreme weather.

This is a test and should not be interpreted as a real emergency alert. However, it is important to notify anyone you know, or may suspect, is at risk of domestic abuse as it could give away the location of hidden devices. Some people living with domestic abusers may have a second phone which is kept in a safe place to make private or emergency calls.

Whilst you can switch off the emergency alert in your phone settings by searching for ‘emergency alerts’ and turning off ‘severe alerts’ and ‘extreme alerts’, it is always best to turn off your phone completely to avoid it being discovered. The government has stressed that the alarm will not sound if the phone is switched off or put on airplane mode. Domestic-abuse campaigners, Refuge, have produced this video showing how to turn off the alerts.

We recommend sharing this post with friends and family even if you do not suspect that they are a victim of domestic abuse, so we can spread this information to keep others safe.