How to switch OFF the emergency phone siren the Government is testing

How to switch OFF the emergency phone siren the Government is set to test in just a few weeks to warn the public of extreme weather and terrorist attacks

  • Emergency sirens will ring out from our phones in a Government trial on April 23
  • The UK system is designed to give alerts on extreme weather, flooding and fires
  • But iPhone and Android users can opt-out in just a matter of seconds if they wish 

Frightening ‘Armageddon’ sirens are to ring out from our phones in just a matter of weeks, as the Government tests its new emergency warning system.

Ten second alarms will blare-out from phones across the country on April 23 -regardless of whether you have the volume turned up or down. 

But with just a couple of taps, users can choose to switch-off these ‘danger to life’ alerts ahead of the big trial. 

The trial sets the stage for disaster warnings to be issued by phone, with focus on life-threatening weather, floods and fires in the UK.  

While the Government believes this will be a ‘vital tool’ to help improve emergency response, both iPhone and Android owners can easily opt-out if they wish.

Emergency sirens will ring out from phones across the UK in a Government trial on April 23 

How to switch emergency alerts on iPhone 

For an iPhone, switch-off options are located in the Notifications tab of the Settings menu.

Once selected, users should then scroll down to the bottom of the page where a small menu of Emergency Alerts can be seen.

If the phone is running on iOS 14.5 or more recent updates, users will then have the option of  switching off both Severe alerts and Emergency alerts.

To stop sirens on an Android device, users can similarly search for ’emergency alerts’ in the Settings menu.

Both Emergency and Severe alerts can be switched off here too, but the device must also be running on Android 11 or more recent software.

However, if you own a Huawei device running EMUI 11 software, users will need to turn off ‘Extreme threats’, ‘Severe threats’ and ‘Show amber alerts’ in the Settings tab.

Labour has been campaigning for a warning system such as this for more than decade, with ministers having promised to introduce one since 2013.

The UK system is designed to give alerts on extreme weather, flooding and fires. Pictured: Flooding in Berkshire during January

How to switch off emergency alerts on Android 

For Huawei devices running on EMUI 11 or older:

Similar alert frameworks have already been implemented across the globe in countries such as Japan and the Netherlands. 

QuakeAlertUSA – an app that shakes when counting down to significant tremors – is also available to smartphone users in California. 

Yet the upcoming UK trial has sparked concern for domestic abuse victims, with some suggesting that a siren could allow abusers to find hidden phones. 

West Midlands Victims’ Commissioner Nicky Brennan said: ‘I know first hand of many victims of domestic abuse who have a concealed phone as a lifeline, allowing them to keep in touch with friends and family or to be used in an emergency.

While the emergency alert system is understandable, it is also vital we raise awareness that this can be switched off for those who need it.

‘I urge anybody who has a concealed phone for their own safety to switch off these alerts.’

Others also suggest that the sudden siren sound could cause crashes on the road if drivers are panicked by what they hear.

Labour has been campaigning for a warning system such as this for more than decade. Pictured: Large fire at a recycling centre in Dorset during 2021

READ MORE: California’s new early warning earthquake app SHAKES as it counts down the seconds to significant tremors

QuakeAlertUSA is now available for free on iOS and Android phones for those in the Golden State, where seismologists say a ‘ground-rupturing’ quake is well overdue

President of the AA, Edmund King, called the scheduled alarm a ‘threat of distraction’ to people on the roads.

According to The Sun, he said: ‘If they have the phone in the car and an odd sound goes off there could be some form of panic. 

‘Even with a hands-free system, the odd sound could mean they reach for the phone.’

As a result, the Government advises that drivers should not read or respond to the alert while travelling in the car or on a motorcycle.

It said: ‘If you are driving, you should continue to drive and not respond to the noise or attempt to pick up the mobile phone and deal with the message.

‘Find somewhere safe and legal to stop before reading the message. If there is nowhere safe or legal to stop close by, and nobody else is in the vehicle to read the alert, tune into live radio and wait for bulletins until you can find somewhere safe and legal to stop.’

Importantly, the Government also shared that users will not receive an alert if your phone is turned off or in airplane mode.

Being connected to 2G, 3G or WiFi-only will prevent phone owners from being notified as well.

Vibration and audio alerts will be issued to those with hearing and vision impairments respectively.

Emergency Alerts 

The Government may send alerts about the following:

  • Severe flooding
  • Fires 
  • Extreme weather 
  • Public health emergencies 

In an alert (which will last for about 10 seconds) your phone may:

  • Make a loud siren-like sound, even on silent 
  • Vibrate 
  • Read out the alert 

Threat alerts will only be sent by:

  • Emergency services 
  • Government departments and agencies
  • Public bodies that deal with emergencies


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