Navigating the National Emergency Alert test

April 20, 2023

Almost everyone with a mobile phone in the UK will be part of a nationwide test of the Government’s new National Emergency Alert on Sunday 23rd April 2023 at 3pm.

What is the National Emergency Alert?

This is a new system that will allow the Government and emergency services to send an alert directly to mobile phones when there is a risk to life, such as severe flooding or wildfires.

Alerts like this have already been used successfully in Europe and other parts of the world.

What will happen during the test?

A loud siren will sound through your mobile phone for up to 10 seconds; it may vibrate; and an alert message will appear on screen. You should read the alert when it is safe to do so (eg not when you are driving) then click OK or swipe to clear the message.

How will might someone with dementia respond to the National Emergency Alert test?

The National Emergency Alert test could be distressing and confusing for a person with dementia, so it is important to consider how they might respond.

Ask yourself:

  • Might the loud, sudden noise startle them?
  • Will they be able to understand and remember that this is a test alarm and remain calm?
  • Will they be able to clear the alert message?
  • Might they need someone there to support them?
  • What can I do to prevent someone living with dementia from becoming distressed by the alert?

Try explaining to the person what will happen, if you believe that they have the capacity to understand and retain the information. Consider whether you or someone else could be present to help the person and provide reassurance when the alert sounds. This could help reduce any distress and confusion caused by the sound, alongside reducing safety risks, eg the person running out of the house because they are frightened. Be mindful that your own mobile phone will receive the alert at the same time.

How can I opt out of the National Emergency Alert test?

Setting the phone to silent will not stop the alert from sounding, but you can opt out of the National Emergency Alert system in the phone’s settings. Just search for ‘emergency alerts’ and turn off Severe alerts and Extreme alerts.

  • On an iPhone, select Settings > Notifications then scroll to the bottom and slide the green buttons to turn off Extreme alerts and Severe alerts.
  • On an Android device, select Settings > Notifications > Wireless emergency alerts and then select the alerts you would like to receive.

However, these alerts are potentially lifesaving, so the Government recommends that you keep them switched on. You will not receive alerts if your device is turned off or in airplane mode.

For more information about the National Alert, please visit:

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