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How to turn the emergency alerts on your iPhone on or off

Devon Delfino   

How to turn the emergency alerts on your iPhone on or off
  • Emergency alerts on your iPhone are likely to be turned on by default.
  • You can choose to turn those emergency alerts on or off in the Settings app.
  • Presidential alerts and other threatening emergencies can't be turned off, regardless of your settings.

When an emergency hits, it's crucial to be in the know as soon as possible. That way, you can be ready for what comes next, whether that means adhering to safety protocols or prepping for a possible hurricane.

If you have an iPhone, or an Apple Watch, you're in luck. You have the option to control your emergency alerts in four simple steps.

It's important to know that some alerts may not be available in your country or region. For example, AMBER (America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) alerts are active for folks who live in the U.S.

Your geographical location can also determine whether you are alerted. For instance, if a child was last seen in New York, the Amber Alert would be sent to everyone in the vicinity of New York City.

In other regions such as Japan, J-Alerts are issued by the government to typically notify the public from natural disasters or even from nuclear attacks. Whatever the nature of the alert may be, this is a feature that can prevent injury and save lives.

Quick tip: Be aware that Presidential alerts (a high priority emergency alert) will ignore your Do Not Disturb settings on your iPhone.

With this in mind, here's how to turn emergency alerts on or off on an iPhone.

Understanding emergency alerts on your iPhone

If you live in the United States, there are three types of government alerts you might get on your iPhone:

  • AMBER alerts
  • Emergency alerts (you can also specify whether a sound should play for these alerts, even if your phone is in silent mode)
  • Public safety alerts

By default, these options will all be turned on. If you want to turn them off, or set them up again, here's how to get it done.

How to turn emergency alerts on your iPhone on or off

1. Open your Settings app.

2. Tap Notifications.

3. Scroll to the bottom of the screen. You'll see a section marked Government Alerts.

4. Choose the option you want to edit the settings for and turn it on or off, as desired.

If you turn all of those options on, you'd then be able to get important alerts about inclement weather and other important news.

Are there exceptions to turning off emergency alerts?

iPhone's 'Do Not Disturb' silences calls, alerts, and notifications when the phone is locked. However, that isn't the case for all emergency alerts. High priority Presidential Alerts are a special class of alerts only sent during a national emergency.

Even if you've turned off all government alerts, your Presidential Alerts can ignore your 'Do Not Disturb' setting, if the emergency is deemed urgent enough.

Regardless of the mobile device you're using, you should always expect to see those come through if you live in the U.S. Some countries can also dictate which alerts you can turn off, so you may not see the exact options listed earlier, either.

How to enable or disable test alerts

Test alert settings are accessed separately from real emergency alerts. By default, these are turned off. But if you decide that you want to change those settings and you live in the U.S. or Puerto Rico, here's how to turn test alerts on or off:

  1. Open the Phone app.
  2. Tap the keypad icon.
  3. To turn it on, enter *5005*25371# and tap the green call icon.
  4. To turn it off, enter *5005*25370# and tap the green call icon.

After completing step three or four you'd get an alert telling you that you've enabled, or disabled, the feature.