UK News

Warning issued to domestic violence victims ahead of national emergency alert test

Survivors are being advised of the risks to their safety if they have a phone hidden in their house.

Georgina Pellant Georgina Pellant - 21st April 2023

A warning has been issued to those living with domestic violence in the UK ahead of the nation’s first-ever national emergency alert test this weekend.

Due to take place this Sunday, the nationwide test will see mobile phones across the UK release a loud, siren-like sound coupled with vibrations and an on-screen alert at 3pm on 23 April.

Designed to warn residents if there is a danger to life nearby, the system will cause phones to emit a loud series of loud warning beeps and vibrations even if it is switched to silent or has notifications off.

By using the tower your mobile phone is connected to broadcast the alert to nearby devices, the government does not need to know the specific location or personal data on your device.

However, those living with domestic abuse are still being warned about the potential risks to their safety if they have a mobile phone hidden in their house ahead of the national test.

Image: Flickr
Image: Sherise Van Dyk (via Unsplash)

Survivors who may be keeping their phones hidden from an abuser are being advised to either switch their phones off or opt out of the alerts in order to avoid their devices from being detected.

Charity Women’s Aid has released advice for survivors ahead of the test, and said in a statement: “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 of the emergency alert

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

Featured image –  NCSC