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AMBER alerts on your iPhone: What they are and how to manage them

AMBER Alerts on iPhone
AMBER Alerts on iPhone (Image credit: Joseph Keller / iMore)

The United States participates in an emergency notification service called AMBER (America's Missing: Broadcasting Emergency Response). An AMBER alert usually lets citizens know when police are tracking a missing person and there is information that this person may be in your area. Apple has included AMBER alert notifications, as well as other emergency government notifications like Emergency Alerts and Public Safety Alerts, on all iPhones, including yours.

Depending on the nature of the alert, which can include child abductions and impending natural disasters, it's a great feature that can prevent injury and save lives. Many lives. So, by their nature, these alerts don't respect Do Not Disturb settings. They NEED to get through.

That can be shocking, however, especially if they happen when you're sleeping, driving, or otherwise not expecting a loud noise to come from your iPhone 13. That's why, ultimately, AMBER and other alerts work at your discretion. They are all on by default, but you can decide which alerts you want to keep on or turn off. Here's how.

How to control AMBER and government alerts on your iPhone

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on Notifications and scroll all the way to the bottom.

How to control AMBER and Government Alerts on your iPhone by showing: Launch Settings, tap Notifications (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Under the Government Alerts section, toggle the AMBER Alerts and Public Safety Alerts options on or off to enable or disable them.
  2. Tap Emergency Alerts and then choose whether you want to receive them or not, and if so, whether you want it to Always Deliver or not. If Always Deliver is off, then emergency alerts will not play a sound when your iPhone is in Silent Mode.

How to control AMBER and Government Alerts on your iPhone by showing: Scroll to the bottom and then tap the toggles for Amber Alerts and Public Safety Alerts, and tap Emergency Alerts to turn it on an (Image credit: iMore)

Turning off AMBER and other alerts can cost lives, including yours. If a natural disaster is coming your way, and you don't know about it, you have no way to save your life or the life of your family.

That's why they're loud and shocking. They're meant to get your attention, instantly — and big, loud, and noisy is the way to do that.

So, while you can disable them, you shouldn't. Not unless you have some other way to be reliably alerted about emergencies.

If you also have an Android device or Windows Phone or know someone who has them, you should make sure that AMBER and other government alerts are also active on those too. Our sister site Android Central has a guide on how to turn on AMBER alerts for Android.

Better safe than sorry!

As previously mentioned, keeping your AMBER and other alerts on is important and potentially life-saving. Apple also offers several other easy-to-use safety features on its devices, including the latest and greatest iPhone. Emergency SOS is one of those safety features and it's been known to save lives on both iPhones and Apple Watches. Triggering it is super simple, all you have to do is follow the steps in our Emergency SOS guide.

Additionally, depending on which version of iOS you're using, Emergency SOS can also reach out to your emergency contacts via your iPhone and send the device's last known location.

Update May 2022: Updated for the latest version of iOS 15.

Stephanie Barnes is a contributor at iMore. She fell in love with technology after building her first PC as a little girl. She later followed that passion to become a front-end/iOS engineer before switching to writing full-time. Stephanie's writing on technology, health and wellness, movies, television, and much more can be found all over the internet, including at HuffPost, HelloGiggles, PopSci, MindBodyGreen, and Business Insider.

At iMore, she covers everything from breaking news to product roundups with the latest and greatest devices, apps, and accessories on the market. Stephanie also writes the occasional how-to guide to help readers get the most out of their Apple's devices and services.

1 Comment
  • When you are in a crowd (in public) and the alert goes off, you can tell who cares and who don’t give a 🦀 by whether their phone rings or not.