UK government to test new emergency alert system on Sunday afternoon: What you need to know

UK Parliament

If you live in the UK, don’t be surprised when your phone starts screeching at 3 p.m. on Sunday. The government is doing a test of a new emergency alert service to see if it works OK. In the future, the plan is to use this system in a targeted manner to alert people to “a danger to life nearby.”

Once the test is done, the alert will be issued in the future in the case of severe flooding, fires, and extreme weather. Luckily, the UK is fairly tranquil when it comes to natural disasters so hopefully, these alerts will be issued sparingly. A number of entities can send these alerts; the emergency services, government departments, agencies, and public bodies that handle emergencies.

Circling back to the test that’s planned for Sunday, your phone will make a loud siren-like sound, it’ll vibrate, and it’ll read out the alert. All this will happen even if your phone is on silent and will last for about 10 seconds before ending. If you want to get a sneak peek at what to expect, check out this video that the government published.

Motorists, who should have their full attention on the road, are warned not to interact with the alerts while driving. The government says you should find somewhere safe to stop before reading it or let someone else in the vehicle read it. If there’s a real emergency in the future and you can’t check your phone, the government recommends switching on the car radio for developments.

You can learn more about the alert system on the government's dedicated webpage.

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