The UK government has announced that a nationwide test of the life-saving public Emergency Alerts system will take place on Sunday 23rd April at 3pm.
The test comes after successful pilots in East Suffolk and Reading.
During the test, people across the country will receive an emergency alert message on the home screen of their mobile phone, accompanied by a sound and vibration lasting up to ten seconds.
The alert will make a sound even if the phone is on silent. However, those who do not wish to receive the alert can turn off their phone before 3pm.
The purpose of the test is to ensure that the new Emergency Alerts system works effectively and efficiently in the event of an emergency.
People are advised that they do not need to take any action during the test, as the sound and vibration will stop automatically after ten seconds. The message can be dismissed by swiping it away or clicking ‘OK’ on the phone’s home screen.
The UK government has partnered with emergency services and other organisations, including the Football Association and the London Marathon, to ensure that the national test has minimum impact on major events taking place on the day.
Emergency Alerts have been successfully used in several other countries, including the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan, where it has been widely credited with saving lives during severe weather events. In the UK, the alerts could be used to inform residents of villages being encroached by wildfires or of severe flooding.
The new system will provide a means to quickly get urgent messages to nearly 90 percent of mobile phones in a defined area, allowing for rapid communication during an emergency. This will bring the UK in line with other countries, such as the US and Canada, who already use the system.
The test is an important step in improving the UK’s warning and informing capability and ensuring the safety of its citizens during emergencies.