The UK government has launched a new Emergency Alerts system that can send life-saving messages directly to mobile phones in areas facing imminent risks.
A UK-wide test will be conducted on the evening of Sunday, 23rd April, during which people will receive a test message on their mobile phones.
The alerts will only be sent by the government or emergency services, and will provide clear instructions on how to respond, as well as a link to gov.uk/alerts for additional information.
These alerts will be used sparingly, only when there is an immediate risk to lives, so people might not receive an alert for months or even years.
Countries like the US, Canada, the Netherlands, and Japan have already adopted similar systems, which have been credited with saving lives during severe weather events.
In the UK, these alerts could be used to inform residents of villages threatened by wildfires or severe flooding.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden MP, highlighted the importance of the new system, stating that it will revolutionize the UK’s ability to warn and inform people in immediate danger, ultimately saving lives.
The Emergency Alerts will be used across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, with initial usage focusing on the most severe weather-related incidents, including severe flooding in England.
The government has collaborated with a number of partners, such as emergency services, transport groups, and the Environment Agency, to develop the system.
Mark Hardingham, Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, expressed enthusiasm for the new system, noting that it has proven effective in other countries and will be a valuable tool for UK emergency services.
Caroline Douglass, Executive Director for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management at the Environment Agency, highlighted the importance of timely and accurate warnings during emergencies. She believes that the Emergency Alerts system is a fantastic addition to the agency’s toolbox and will be instrumental in emergency situations.
The alerts, which are secure, free to receive, and one-way, do not reveal anyone’s location or collect personal data. They can only be sent by authorized governmental and emergency services users.
This innovative Emergency Alerts system serves as a safeguard, ensuring the public stays informed and prepared to tackle emergencies.