Smartphone users in Lancashire are set to receive government warnings about life-threatening events. 

Texts sent automatically to mobile phones will look and sound different to standard messages, and provide localised alerts regarding events such as flooding, fires, extreme weather and public health emergencies. Terrorist attacks may also be added to the list of incidents to trigger alerts. 

The system is being launched across the UK in October following trials in Reading and East Suffolk, and will begin with a welcome message. The Cabinet Office says the alerts should reach the 85% of the population who have a smartphone capable of receiving them, and users will be given the option to opt out. There are no figures available for users of older 2G and 3G mobile devices. The government has provided assurance that it does not keep a list of numbers and users - messages and warning tones are sent directly to mobiles via cell towers.  

Only the emergency services and the government can issue alerts, and the public can check they are genuine at www.gov.uk/alerts where they will be listed. 

Messages will only be sent in “very dangerous situations” and will enable the public to take action in the event of incidents such as flooding, which the Cabinet Office confirmed is the most common emergency in the UK. 

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