UK Emergency Alert System launches

A UK-wide emergency alerts service will be in operation from today, in a move that is hoped will transform the country’s warning and informing capability when there is a risk to life.

It is understood that, using mobile broadcasting technology, the Emergency Alerts system will transmit urgent messages quickly to nearly 90% of mobile phones in a defined area, with instructions about how best to respond.

Following tests in East Suffolk and Reading almost two years ago, a UK-wide test is scheduled to take place on Sunday 23rd April.

The alerts will only ever come from the government or emergency services, and they will issue a warning, always include the details of the area impacted, and provide instructions about how best to respond, linking to where people can find further information.

The service has already been used successfully in a number of other countries, where it has been credited with saving lives during severe weather events. In the UK, alerts could be used to inform residents of villages being encroached by severe flooding.

Emergency Alerts will be used across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and their initial use will focus on the most serious severe weather-related incidents, including severe flooding in England. The government has been working closely with a range of stakeholders and partners across the UK on developing the system, including colleagues from the emergency services, transport groups and the Environment Agency.

Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, Mark Hardingham, said: “Together with every fire and rescue service in the country, I’m looking forward to having Emergency Alerts available to help us to do our jobs and to help communities in the event of emergencies.

“We’ve seen this type of system in action elsewhere across the world and we look forward to having the facility here in the UK. By working together with fire services and partners we want this system to help us to help you be as safe as you can if a crisis does hit.”

The emergency services and the UK government do not need your phone number to send you an alert.

You will not receive alerts if your device is turned off or in airplane mode; connected to a 2G or 3G network; wifi only; or not compatible.

If it is unsafe for you to receive an alert, or you do not wish to be alerted, you can opt out in your phone's settings.

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