How to Change Your iPhone Emergency Alert Settings

June 13, 2022 • April Miller


You’re sound asleep, and your phone starts shrieking like the undead. Odds are your iPhone emergency alerts are turned on. Many situations aren’t ideal for receiving alert messages on your phone, like driving, working and sleeping. 

Luckily, disabling these ear-piercing messages takes only a few simple steps. The process is easy enough. Anyone could do it. 

Types of iPhone Emergency Alerts 

Authorities use WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerts) to send warning messages to cell carriers, who then distribute the alert to qualifying devices. There are three types of iPhone emergency alerts you could receive:

1. AMBER Alerts

AMBER alerts are used in child-abduction cases to get all people in the surrounding area looking out for a missing child. Often alerts are as detailed as possible with a description and name of the child and the abductor or the car they were using. These warnings are a crucial part of reuniting families, having saved over 120 children. 

2. Emergency Alerts

These are used in extreme situations to alert everyone in the vicinity of a man-made or natural disaster. Acts of terrorism would constitute an emergency alert. Warnings for natural disasters could include wildfires, tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes. 

In times of severe national emergency, the President or a proxy will use emergency alerts to spread news to the entire country. They may issue warnings of terrorist threats or impending nuclear attacks. 

3. Public Safety Alerts 

Public safety alerts are for less severe situations. Boil water advisory and burn ban notices are possibilities. Public health announcements are also part of this alert type and cover issues like testing sites and important virus spread information. 

Methods to Adjust iPhone Emergency Alert Settings

If you’ve decided you just can’t take it anymore and need to change your settings, you can disable iPhone emergency alerts through one of these two simple methods. 

1. Turn Alerts Off

From your home screen, enter the “Settings” app. Next, find “Notifications.” Scroll all the way down to the bottom till you find the Government Alerts section. You’ll see three options: “AMBER Alerts,” “Emergency Alerts” and “Public Safety Alerts.” 

To turn off AMBER and public safety alerts, simply tap the switch to the right one time so the button no longer appears green. To turn off emergency alerts, click the arrow to the right and tap the toggle switch next to Emergency Alerts.  

2. Silence Emergency Alerts

Your “Do Not Disturb” and “Silent Mode” won’t hinder emergency alerts from getting through. So if you want to get rid of the noise without turning the alerts off completely, you’ll need to go back into your notification settings. 

To turn off the sound for emergency alerts, tap the arrow to the right and tap the toggle next to “Always Play Sound” until it’s no longer green. Now, when your phone is on silent, an emergency alert will still come through, but you won’t hear it. Unfortunately, at this time, AMBER and public safety alerts can only be on or off, not silenced. 

Consider Leaving iPhone Emergency Alerts on When You Can

Some circumstances aren’t ideal for loud emergency alert notifications. However, the messages are often crucial for public and personal safety. Despite the drawbacks, consider leaving iPhone emergency alerts on whenever possible. The settings are easy to change, so turning alerts on and off depending on your location could be a reasonable solution.