How To: Silence Annoyingly Loud Emergency Alerts on iPhone Without Disabling Them Completely

Silence Annoyingly Loud Emergency Alerts on iPhone Without Disabling Them Completely

Wireless emergency alerts help warn mobile phone users of imminent threats to life or property, such as extreme weather and natural disasters. These alerts target affected geographic areas and come with a loud sound scary enough to make you want to turn off emergency alerts altogether on your iPhone, but there's a way to keep emergency alerts without the ear-splitting, intrusive sound.

State and local government-issued alerts have been silenceable since iOS 14.5, so that means any iPhone model that's an iPhone 6S or newer can mute alert sounds. You can skip to the instructions below if you want to get straight to it.

Keep Emergency Alerts on but Shut the Sounds Down

While wireless emergency alerts, or WEA, are meant to give you warnings of impending danger, they can be tempting to turn off because of their siren-like sounds, especially if you get a lot of stray alarms. They're worth keeping on, but they don't need to be accompanied by headache-inducing tones.

The sound will definitely get your attention, but it can be so surprising and startling that it can cause panic attacks, extreme anger, and even car wrecks. If you check your iPhone regularly, you'll still receive information essential to your safety when it comes to tornadoes, hurricanes, flash floods, tsunamis, severe thunderstorms, and other natural weather conditions — just without the added noise.

During the wildfires that engulfed Maui in August 2023 and caused significant damage to property and an increasing death count, the WEA system was many people's only warning in areas where cellular service has not already been affected. So, I can't stress enough that keeping the alerts on is a must, but the alarm sound can be disabled.

How to Disable the Loud Sounds for Emergency Alerts

To shut down the loud sounds that accompany WEA notifications on iOS 15, iOS 16, and iOS 17, open "Notifications" in the Settings app, scroll down to the bottom, tap "Emergency Alerts," and disable "Always Play Sound." On iOS 14, it's the same thing, only the toggle is labeled "Always deliver."

With the setting turned off, you'll still receive all emergency alerts, but they won't play a sound when your iPhone is set to Silent mode using the switch near your volume buttons.

That last part is important since emergency alerts will still make noise if your ringer switch is turned on. If you never want to be spooked by an emergency alert again, you'll need to keep your iPhone on silent at all times. Unfortunately, none of this applies to Amber Alerts or public safety alerts, both of which will still sound when turned on.

Just updated your iPhone? You'll find new features for Podcasts, News, Books, and TV, as well as important security improvements and fresh wallpapers. Find out what's new and changed on your iPhone with the iOS 17.5 update.

Cover photo and screenshots by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks

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