UK emergency alerts: How to stay safe


A nationwide test of the UK’s emergency alert service will take place at 3pm on Sunday 23 April. The alerts will warn you if there’s a danger to life nearby, such as flooding or fires. 

However, we are concerned about the potential safety risks to survivors who may be keeping their phones hidden from an abuser, as the alert is a loud, siren-like sound with a screen message and vibration.

Survivors can opt out from receiving emergency alerts to avoid their device from being detected.  

Emergency Alerts will be sent to compatible mobile phones within an area of risk. Emergency alerts work on: 

  • iPhones running iOS 14.5 or later 
  • Android phones and tablets running Android 11 or later

The alert may still be received on earlier versions of Android. To check, search your device settings for ‘emergency alerts’.  

How to opt out 


For iPhone
To opt out, search your settings for ‘emergency alerts’ and turn off ‘Severe alerts’ and ‘Emergency alerts.’ If this does not work, contact your device manufacturer.

For Android 
To opt out, search your settings for ‘emergency alerts’ and turn off ‘Severe alerts’ and ‘Emergency alerts’. On some devices, search your settings for ‘emergency alerts’ and turn off ‘Extreme threats’, ‘Severe threats’ and ‘Show amber alerts’.

Refuge’s tech team have put together information for survivors with an iPhone or Android on how to opt-out of the system. You can also find out more at and on the Q&A document. 



Lucy Hadley, head of policy at Women’s Aid, said: 

“We are concerned about the impact of the emergency alerts system on survivors of domestic abuse. For many survivors, a second phone which the perpetrator does not know about is an important form of communication with friends or family – as some abusers confiscate or monitor and control their partner’s phone. It may also be their only lifeline in emergencies. The emergency alerts pose a risk, not only because an abuser could discover a survivors’ second phone, but also because they could use this as a reason to escalate abuse.

At Women’s Aid we are working with our members and using our direct services to ensure that survivors who we come into contact with will be informed, and know how to opt-out of the alerts. We urge the government to ensure the safety of survivors is central to the roll out of this scheme, particularly through raising awareness about how to opt-out.

If you are suffering domestic abuse and are concerned – Women’s Aid is here for you. For information and support go to” 

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