How to Turn Off Government Emergency Alerts on iPhone

Jun 26, 2013 - 11 Comments

Emergency Alert on an iPhone

The iPhone includes FCC & FEMA alerts on all major US carriers, known as Wireless Emergency Alerts. This translates into two basic types of alerts; AMBER alerts for abductions, and general emergency alerts issued by national, state, and local governments. Both of these alert types are free to receive, fairly severe, and also pretty rare, and by no means should an iPhone get a bunch of random alerts from governmental agencies unless something truly dangerous is going on that applies to you. The alerts themselves typically coincide with extreme weather, ranging from blizzards, floods, wild fire, extreme heat, hurricanes, to other natural disasters, but could theoretically include man-caused incidents, and other dangers and emergencies the government would like to immediately inform you about.

Nonetheless some users may find the government alerts to be annoying, particularly since the sound effect that comes with them is quite loud, often shocking and startling, and abrasive. If you’d like to disable emergency alerts on the iPhone, read on.

By default, iPhone and iOS has both AMBER and emergency alerts set to ON, which is probably a good idea to keep enabled, but of course not everyone wants to get any such alerts on their devices, and iOS gives you the option to toggle these off. Consider this carefully before you disable the Emergency Alerts on your device.

How To Turn Off Emergency Alerts on iPhone

Don’t want to hear that frightening blaring emergency alert anymore? Here is how you can turn them off:

  1. Open Settings app on the iPhone
  2. Go to “Notifications” in Settings
  3. Scroll to the very bottom to find the toggle switches for AMBER Alerts and Emergency Alerts to the OFF position

How to turn off emergency alerts on iPhone

You can also independently turn off AMBER alerts or emergency alerts, but if you’re annoyed with the blaring sound effect of one you will likely want to turn it off for both.

Emergency alert on an iPhone

Once the Emergency Alerts are turned off, you will no longer get any notifications pushed to your iPhone from the government unless you re-enable the feature again.

How to Re-Enable Emergency Alerts on iPhone

  1. Open Settings app on the iPhone
  2. Go to “Notifications”
  3. Locate AMBER Alerts and Emergency Alerts and toggle the switches to the ON position

Note that on older versions of iOS the toggle also exists, but it looks slightly different:

Turn On or Off Government Alerts on the iPhone

You will need iOS 6.1 or newer to have these two options available. Because they are very infrequent, toggling them off will likely have no effect on battery life unlike disabling some of the nagging alerts that arrive from third party apps.

Assuming you have the alerts set to ON, the FCC explains the three primary alert types as so:

Alerts from WEA cover only critical emergency situations. Consumers will receive only three types of alerts:

1. Alerts issued by the President
2. Alerts involving imminent threats to safety or life
3. Amber Alerts

Participating carriers may allow subscribers to block all but Presidential alerts.

These are basically all public safety emergencies, evacuation and shelter orders, chemical spills, and other unpleasant scenarios that would be important to be notified of. Because the alerts only come through in extreme situations, our recommendation would be to leave these alerts set to ON with any iPhone you actually use often and keep with you all the time. On the other hand, for older iPhone models or iPhones that are serving some alternative purpose other than a daily carry device, it may make some sense to switch them off. This is really up to you, just be aware that if you disable emergency alert and a disaster is happening in your area, it will be entirely up to you to figure out what’s going on and what to do about it. Good luck!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Tips & Tricks

11 Comments

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  1. Gabby says:

    The emergency alert notification is turned on but I did not get an alert alarm during a recent tonado warning in my area. I have received alerts in the past. Could this have something to do with the recent iphone update?

    • Ra says:

      I dint really even know how you can get these. I have has many storms and tornado watches and I don’t have the choice of turning this alert on or off. I don’t see it on the notification center.

  2. Nalege says:

    I don’t have the choice of turning amber alerts on in notification center at all

  3. Robert says:

    I don’t have it on my iPhone I wish I do because I work at a hospital I need alerts I can get

  4. angel says:

    My alerts are on but i haven’t received any

  5. Treva reed says:

    I can’t get alerts

  6. sandra bernardo says:

    How do I turn on emergency alerts.

  7. Douglas stearns says:

    how can I get emgerncy alerts I am a federal worker government non millitary and I want to signup for alerts please Amber alerts and goverment alerts please thanks!

  8. Linda says:

    I can receive Amber Alerts but not weather. Both are turned on. Just had a factory reset and added 9.

  9. Ross says:

    I get “Duststorm Alerts” from god knows where….though it is calm and clear here. Great idea but…..

  10. Melvic says:

    Is this emergency alerts dependent on the carrier? Or the iphone unit? My iphone 7+ has it but not my iphone 7 and both have been updated with iOS 11. Please enlighten. Thank you.

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