How to avoid alarm ageddon: An emergency alert test will sound on mobile phones across Britain this Sunday – here’s how to opt out
- On April 23, emergency sirens will ring from our phones during a government trial
- The UK system is designed to provide warnings of extreme weather, flooding and fires
- It sounds at 3 p.m. and lasts up to 10 seconds, even if your phone is on silent
An emergency alert test will sound on mobile phones across Britain this Sunday, but it’s easy to prevent your device from receiving it.
The alarm is a rehearsal for the government’s national emergency alert service in response to a national crisis or disaster, such as a terror attack or major flood.
The so-called Armageddon Alert siren, which sounds at 3 p.m., lasts up to ten seconds, even if your phone is on silent. Alerts sound on almost all devices on 4G or 5G networks. But you can make sure you don’t get the message before the test – and it’s as easy as turning your device off or on.
On iPhones, users can open Settings, tap Notifications, scroll down and disable the “Extreme Alerts” and “Severe Alerts.” Android users need to open Settings, look for Emergency Alerts and turn them off.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden said: ‘Getting this system up and running gives us an essential tool to keep the public safe in life-threatening emergencies. It may be the sound that saves your life.’
Emergency sirens will ring from UK telephones during a government trial on April 23
But there are concerns it could shock people, especially among crowds at Premier League matches and shopping malls.
It can also pose a risk to victims of domestic violence who have a secret phone as a lifeline that can then be discovered by perpetrators.
The West Midlands Victims Commissioner was among those who raised concerns about victims of abuse, as previously reported in a MailOnline article.
She said: “I know firsthand many victims of domestic violence who have a hidden phone as a lifeline, which allows them to keep in touch with friends and family or be used in an emergency.
“While the emergency alert system is understandable, it is also essential that we raise awareness that this can be turned off for those who need it.
“I urge anyone with a hidden phone to disable these alerts for their own safety.”
Domestic violence charity Refuge has also produced a guide on how to opt out, with tips for securing a secret device, at refugetechsafety.org.
Others also suggest that the sudden siren sound could cause road accidents if drivers are panicked by what they hear.
UK system designed to issue warnings of extreme weather, flooding and fires (file image)
As a result, the government has advised that motorists do not read or respond to the warning while traveling in a car or motorcycle.
It said, “If you’re driving, keep driving and don’t respond to the sound or try to pick up the cell phone and deal with the message.”
“Find a safe and legal place to stop before reading the message. If there is nowhere near a safe or legal place to pull over, and no one else is in the vehicle to read the alarm, tune in to live radio and wait for bulletins until you find a safe and legal place to to stop.’
Phone users will not be notified if their phones are turned off or in airplane mode, the government added.
The test coincides with the London Marathon and Premier League 2pm ties between Bournemouth and West Ham and Newcastle and Tottenham Hotspur.
Being connected to 2G, 3G, or just Wi-Fi prevents phone owners from being notified as well.
Vibration and sound alerts are issued to the hearing and visually impaired, respectively.