Emergency Alerts

What is Emergency Alerts?

Emergency Alerts is a free service from the UK government that’s new for 2023. The service will warn you if there’s a severe danger to life or property nearby.

It may send alerts about anything from severe flooding to fires, terror attacks to public health emergencies.

Why’s it launching? 

In the event of an emergency, it’s important to act quickly.

The idea is to help save lives by issuing a warning and clear instructions about how best to respond to a dangerous situation.

How does it work?

Alerts are sent by text. The service simply uses the nearest cell towers to the affected area.

In an emergency, every compatible mobile phone or tablet in range will receive a text message with details of the incident and advice on how to stay safe. 

Your phone or tablet may:

  • make a loud siren-like sound, even if it’s set on silent

  • vibrate

  • read out the alert

  • contain a phone number or link to the GOV.UK website for more info 

The alerts are totally secure. 

You don’t need to register your phone number to get them. As such, they don’t reveal your location or collect any personal data.

The Emergency Alerts service works on:

  • iPhones running iOS 14.5 or later

  • Android phones and tablets running Android 11 or later (the service may work on devices running an earlier version. If you have one, you should contact your device manufacturer)

  • Apple Watch cellular devices running WatchOS 8.5 or later

How will I know that the alert is genuine?

Emergency Alerts are only sent by the emergency services, or by government departments, agencies and public bodies that deal with emergencies.

The alerts have a unique set of characteristics that cannot be replicated by an SMS message, so they can’t be sent by members of the public.

If you want to verify a message, all issued alerts are listed on the GOV.UK website.

You can also check with neighbours or local friends and family to see if they’ve also received an alert.

What you need to know

  • You’ll get alerts based on your current location, not where you live or work. If you’re not near an affected area, you won’t receive a text.
  • You won’t get alerts if your device is turned off or in aeroplane mode.
  • Emergency Alerts is a free service. You don’t need to sign up for it or download an app.
  • You can opt out of some emergency alerts, but you should keep them switched on for your own safety.

Find out more

You can see a list of current alerts and past alerts at any time.

Please note: Android phones and tablets may get more than one reminder about the same emergency alert. These reminders can be turned off in your settings.

Did you find this page useful?

Any feedback you have helps us make your experience better.