Millions of Britons are getting siren-like alerts on their phones as government tests an emergency system that could alert the public to extreme weather and terrorist attacks
- On Sunday, April 23, the siren-like alarm will sound for ten seconds
- The system is intended to be used to warn people about risks to life
An emergency warning system to warn people of life-threatening events such as floods and wildfires will be tested next month, ministers said.
On Sunday, April 23, the siren-like alarm will sound for ten seconds to warn people of danger to life.
The system – modeled after similar schemes in the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan – aims to warn people of risks to their lives.
Phone users will not be able to use other features on their devices unless they acknowledge the warning.
The alarm – which will be sent on St. George’s Day – will appear on people’s phone home screens, accompanied by a loud alert sound and vibration.
The siren-like alarm will sound for ten seconds to warn people of mortal danger on Sunday, April 23 (stock image)
The scheme will initially focus on the most severe extreme weather conditions. It will be able to reach 90 percent of mobile users in the affected area in an emergency.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden said: ‘We are strengthening our national resilience with a new emergency warning system to face a wide range of threats – from floods to bushfires.
“It will revolutionize our ability to warn and inform people who are in immediate danger and help us keep people safe.
“As we’ve seen in the US and elsewhere, the buzz of a phone can save a life.”
People who don’t want to receive the alerts can opt out in their device settings, but officials hope the life-saving potential of the messages means users will leave them on.
The alerts come only from the government or emergency services and include details of the affected area and instructions on how best to respond.
The Cabinet Office said the alerts are safe, free to receive and one-way, stressing that they do not reveal anyone’s location or collect any personal data.
Tests of the service have already taken place in East Suffolk and Reading.
The scheme could eventually be extended to cover terrorist incidents, but officials acknowledged that much more information would be needed about how the UK’s warning system works before that could happen in response to a fast-moving attack.
Mark Hardingham, chairman of the National Fire Chiefs Council, said: ‘Together with every fire and rescue service in the country, I look forward to having emergency alerts available to help us do our jobs and help communities in an emergency .
‘We’ve seen this type of system in action elsewhere in the world and we’re looking forward to having the facility here in the UK – working with fire services and partners we want this system to help us help you stay as safe as possible. be as you can when a crisis hits.”
The Environment Agency’s Caroline Douglas, the executive director for flood and coastal erosion risk management, said: ‘Being able to communicate timely and accurate warnings during incidents is very important in helping people take action to protect themselves, their families and their neighbours.