The government will send a siren-like emergency warning message to all mobile phone users in the UK next month in a trial of a new public warning system.

During the test, a message appears on the home screens of people’s devices with vibrations and a loud warning tone that plays for about 10 seconds – even if the phone is on silent. Phone users will not be able to use any other features on their devices unless they acknowledge the alert sent on Sunday, April 23.

The system, which is modeled after similar systems used in the US, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands, is intended for use in life-threatening situations and will initially target the worst weather-related events, including floods and wildfires. The reports contain details of the affected area and instructions on how to respond.

Messages would only come from the government or emergency services, with the ability to send a message to 90% of cell phone users in the area. They are only sent when there is an imminent threat to life, and many people may not receive a warning for months or years.

Users can opt out by browsing their device settings for emergency alerts, then turning off severe and extreme alerts. However, officials say the alerts can be lifesavers and advise against turning them off.

The Cabinet Office said the alerts were secure, free to receive and one-way, stressing that they did not reveal anyone’s location or collect personal information.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden, said: “We are strengthening our national resilience with a new emergency warning system to address a wide range of threats – from floods to bushfires. It will revolutionize our ability to warn and inform people who are in imminent danger and will help us protect people. As we’ve seen in the US and elsewhere, a phone’s buzz can save lives.”

The service has already been trialled in East Suffolk and Reading. The system could eventually be expanded to cover terrorist incidents, but officials conceded that much more information would be needed about how the UK’s warning system worked before it could do so in response to a fast-moving attack.

Mark Hardingham, Chairman of the National Fire Chiefs’ Council, said: “As with all fire and rescue services across the country, I look forward to having emergency alerts available to help us do our jobs and help communities in the event of an emergency. We have seen this type of system in action elsewhere in the world and look forward to having the facility here in the UK – together with fire services and partners we want this system to help us stay as safe as possible when a crisis occurs takes place.

Caroline Douglas, Executive Director for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management at the Environment Agency, said: “The ability to communicate timely and accurate warnings when incidents occur is very important in helping people take action to protect themselves, their families and their neighbors to protect to protect. .”