This is the exact time your smartphone will emit a public alarm siren | UK News

EMBARGOED TO 0001 SUNDAY 19 MARCH File photo dated 03/01/18 of social media apps, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and WhatsApp, displayed on a mobile phone screen. A siren-like emergency alert message will be sent to mobile phone users across the UK by the government next month in a test of a new public alert system. Phone users will not be able to use any other features on their devices unless they acknowledge the alert, which is set to be sent on Sunday April 23. Issue date: Sunday March 19, 2023. PA Photo. See PA Story POLITICS Alerts. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

An emergency alert test will be rolled out to millions of phones this month (Image: PA)

Millions of mobile phones across the UK will sound the alarm and vibrate at 3pm on April 23 in a nationwide test of a new public alert system.

The system is intended for use in life-threatening situations such as floods and forest fires.

But domestic violence activists have warned the test could put people at risk by revealing the location of secret phones hidden by those at risk.

The message will be received on 4G and 5G mobile phones along with sound and vibration for up to 10 seconds.

The 10-second beep is designed to warn phone users of serious risks to public safety (Picture: Getty)

The 10-second beep is designed to warn phone users of serious risks to public safety (Picture: Getty)

Phone users are prompted to acknowledge the alert by swiping or clicking the message before continuing to use their device.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden, said: “Commissioning this system with the national test means we have another tool in our toolkit to help protect the public in life-threatening emergencies.

“It could be the sound that saves your life.”

The system is modeled after similar systems in the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan.

The St George’s Day Test coincides with major events including the London Marathon and the 2pm Premier League games between Bournemouth and West Ham and Newcastle and Tottenham Hotspur.

Officials said they have been working with the Football Association and organizers of the marathon to ensure the impact of the test remains limited.

Mark Hardingham, chairman of the National Fire Chiefs Council, said: “For 10 seconds the national test may be uncomfortable for some but please forgive us for the intrusion because next time you listen it’s your life and the life-saving measures are ours Emergency services might depend on it.’

People who don’t want to receive the notifications can opt out in their device settings, but officials are hoping the messages’ life-saving potential means users keep them on.

The National Center on Domestic Violence (NCDV) warned people with hidden second cell phones to turn off the alerts to avoid revealing the location of their devices.

NCDV’s Sharon Bryan said: “Hidden second phones are a lifeline for victims and survivors who are constantly at risk of abuse or worse.

“This siren test can unexpectedly reveal your presence to perpetrators – with catastrophic consequences.”

The government said it has been actively working with organizations working with vulnerable women and girls to ensure they are not affected by the rollout of emergency alerts.

Officials stressed that if people need to keep their phones hidden, it’s easy to opt out of the system by either turning off the alerts or simply turning off the phone during the test.

Deputy Chief of Police Owen Weatherill of the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “Together with our partners, we will continue to listen carefully to public feedback and ensure that the use of emergency alerts is having a positive impact.”

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Justin Scaccy

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