France sends first widespread warning on 'FR-Alert' phone system

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France sends first widespread warning on 'FR-Alert' phone system
ID Austria is designed to allow people to use their phone in place of ID, or to sign documents electronically. (Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP)

France's 'FR-Alert' system sent out warnings to over one million people on Tuesday, to inform them about dangerous weather, the first widespread use of the new alert system.


France's new emergency text alert system, FR-ALERT, has been used for the first time, apart from tests, to warn people in the east of the country about extreme weather. 

On Tuesday, more than one million residents of eastern France received a notification on their phones informing them that violent thunderstorms were expected in the area.


The message informed people of a 'serious alert' - offering four pieces of advice (in French), starting with "stay at home and avoid going outdoors".

France's ministry of interior issued the alert in the five départements that had been listed by Météo France as at the 'red-level' of risk for severe storms.

The new device for alerting and informing populations by phone became operational in June 2022 for smartphones equipped with 4G and 5G and is now available on phones with 3G and 2G.

The system covers extreme weather such as storms, floods or wildfires; health warnings such as epidemic alerts or food recalls; biological or chemical incidents such as a factory leaks; as well as technological and industrial incidents such as major crashes on the road or serious disruption on railways and terror attacks.

Until Tuesday, FR-ALERT had been used mainly in testing contexts, but it had been used on the French island of Le Réunion and for a forest fire.

Tuesday was, however, the first widespread use of the alert.

How to get alerts 

The app alerts are based on your phone's location and it is not necessary to download an app to get them.

You do, however, have to check the notification on your phone to ensure that you have 'agreed' to receive alerts.

Example of notifications centre on an iPhone

For most people these will be in phone settings under 'wireless alerts', which is usually in the advanced settings section of notifications.

If you are in an area deemed to be facing a threat or serious danger, then you will receive a notification by SMS (text message) unless your phone is switched off or set to airplane mode.

Upon release, authorities said that the messages would be sent in French, but they said there would be a possibility for some to be sent in other languages if an incident occurs in a tourist area or particularly affects tourists.    


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