If your iPhone makes a sudden siren-like sound it might give you a bit of a shock, but it should be nothing to worry about.

The UK government is going to be testing a new Emergency Alert system that will send alerts to phones and tablets.

You may have seen a notification alerting you to this new feature.

To see if your iPhone is set up to receive these Emergency warnings follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap on Notifications.
  3. Scroll right down to the bottom of the page.
  4. You will see two kinds of Emergency Alerts: Extreme Alerts and Severe Alerts.
  5. Both should be on - the slider will be green.

If you don't want to receive these alerts you can change the slider to grey by tapping on it.

  • Apple ran the first test in East Suffolk on 25 May 2021 between 1pm and 2pm.
  • Another test is scheduled for 22 June between 1pm and 2pm, but this test will only affect Android phones.
  • On 29 June another test will take place, this time on iPhones and other smartphones, but it will be limited to people in Reading. Again it will take place between 1pm and 2pm.

You can find out more at gov.uk/alerts

Why am I receiving an Emergency Alert

If you receive the alert on one of the dates mentioned above it is likely you are receiving the alert as part of a test.

The UK Government is launching the new service in the summer of 2021. The system will alert people to danger to life nearby. This could be a threat from terrorism or natural disasters.

What will happen if I get an emergency alert

Your iPhone, iPad or other smartphone or tablet will either:

  • make a loud siren-like sound, even if it's set on silent
  • vibrate
  • read out the alert

What should I do if I get an emergency alert

If you receive an alert you should read it and follow the instructions. There may be a link to a website or a phone number.

Obviously if you are driving you should pull over before reading the alert.

What to do if you miss the alert

If the notification disappears before you read it properly you should be able to see it in Notification Centre. Unfortunately once you have cleared the notification you won't be able to see it again.

How can I turn off these alerts

Since they are emergency alerts designed to warn you of danger to life nearby it wouldn't be wise to turn them off. But if you wanted to for some reason (perhaps you would rather not know the aliens had arrived on Earth) then go to Settings > Notifications > Emergency Alerts and turn off Extreme Alerts and Severe Alerts, and good luck to you!