How to turn off the emergency alert on iPhone and Android

Every phone that is switched on and connected will emit loud noises and lights on Sunday – unless the feature is turned off

Andrew Griffin
Sunday 23 April 2023 14:36 BST
Listen to what the government emergency alert sent to phones will sound like

All UK phones are about to light up with an emergency alert test, at exactly the same time.

On Sunday, 23 April, at 3pm, phones will emit a loud, siren sound, vibrate and show a message on screen.

In this case, that message will make clear that it is just a test. But in future, that could include important, urgent information such as warnings about fires or floods.

The test and the feature could therefore be critical to keeping people safe in an emergency.

But some organisations have expressed fears that the test could actually endanger some people. Those at risk of domestic or sexual abuse may have hidden phones, for instance, and the loud alert could draw attention to those devices.

For anyone at risk, it is possible to switch the feature off quickly and easily. It is turned on by default, meaning that any device that is switched on and has not gone through this process will receive the message on Sunday.

It is very important to note that the switch to turn off both test alerts and real ones is the same: there is no way to only disable it for Sunday. As such, it might be worth leaving it on unless there is an important reason to turn it off – and if you do switch it off, it could be worth setting a reminder to switch it back on again afterwards.

With that said, it is easy to turn the feature off, and just as easy to turn it back on again. the system to do so depends a little on what device you are using.

On an iPhone, open up the Settings app and type “emergency alerts” in the search bar. That should bring up the option to turn off “Severe alerts” and Emergency alerts”.

On an Android device, once again go to the settings app and search for emergency alerts. The wording of the switch might depend a little on what version you are using, but will usually be something like “emergency alerts”, and have the option to turn it off.

Devices that are switched off, connected to WiFi only, or using a 2G or 3G network will not receive the alert. It also requires more recent operating systems, though any device that has received updates from the last few years should be compatible.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in