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Government Emergency Alerts | Help & Support | O2
We don’t like to think about the worst happening, but in the event of an emergency – it’s important we’re able to respond quickly and safely.
Emergency Alerts is a new service from the UK government that will be trialled this summer, before being rolled out across the UK.
If there is danger to life nearby, your phone or tablet will receive an alert with advice about how to stay safe.
You may get alerts about:
- severe flooding
- terrorist incidents
- public health emergencies
The UK government is still testing the Emergency Alerts service and you may get an alert if you live in, or travel through, a test area.
The first public trial took place in East Suffolk on the 25 May. More trials are scheduled to take place in the coming months.
People who receive a test alert will not need to do anything – it is just a test to ensure the effectiveness of the Emergency Alert service.
When you get an emergency alert
Emergency alerts will only be sent by:
• the emergency services
• government departments, agencies and public bodies that deal with emergencies
Your phone or tablet will vibrate and make a loud siren-like sound, even if it’s set on silent.
The alert will include a warning, details about the affected area and advice on what to do.
Sometimes an alert will include a phone number or a link to the GOV.UK website for more information.
How it works
Emergency Alerts are text-based messages broadcasted from cell towers in the vicinity of an emergency – using 4G and 5G networks.
The alerts are secure, free to receive, and one-way. They do not reveal your location and do not collect any personal data.
- What are emergency alerts?
Emergency Alerts are a public information service that the UK government has developed to alert people about emergencies, both nation-wide and in their local area.
The technology used allows a text-based message to be broadcast to a specific area, meaning any device in or entering that area immediately receives the message.
The message will detail the emergency and actions people need to take to ensure their safety.
Their purpose is to help save lives in emergency situations by issuing a warning and clear instructions about how best to respond.
- What do the messages look like?
Emergency Alerts appear on your device's home screen. You must acknowledge them before you can use your phone’s other features.
The alerts appear as a text-message notification and will include telephone numbers or website links containing further information.
A loud, siren-like sound and vibration will accompany the message to raise awareness of the hazard or threat.
- What should I do if I receive an Emergency Alert?
Read the content carefully. An Emergency Alert is likely to include a link to gov.uk/alerts where further information is contained, and/or a helpline.
Alerts are sent to warn you when lives are in danger and, sometimes, for test purposes.
Take the appropriate action as directed by the message, and consider alerting others in the area who may not have received or seen the message.
- Will emergency alerts work on all devices?
Emergency Alerts should be received on a majority of devices. However, there are some factors which might mean you will not receive an alert. These include:
- Where a device connects to 3G or a 2G signal. This can often happen inside buildings. A device needs to be on 4G or 5G to receive the alert.
- The device does not have the latest software update or the software update has not been released (older devices have a slower update cycle).
- The device is not able to receive the alerts as it is no longer supported.
- The device is not a 4G-enabled device.
- The device was switched off.
- The device was not connected to a mast broadcasting the Emergency Alert.
- Do I need to update my phone to receive emergency alerts?
Yes, if it does not have the latest software. Most newer phones (from 2015 onwards) can receive the messages if they have the latest software update.
Phones over six years old are likely to require some changes to the settings by the user.
Older models of Apple (before iPhone 6S) that do not support iOS 14 and older models of Android (generally older than Android 9 / Pie) will not be able to receive Emergency Alerts.
If you are unsure whether your phone can receive Emergency Alerts, contact us to confirm.
- Why am I receiving an alert meant for a different location?
If you have a Boostbox configured at your location, please contact us to check your device address details are correct.