If any “imminent threats to safety or life” happen to arise, it’s very helpful that your iPhone will let you know immediately. That’s just one category of emergency notifications that iPhone users automatically receive; the others include “alerts issued by your country or region’s government,” “alerts for extreme weather conditions,” AMBER Alerts, and Public Safety Alerts (PSAs).
In other words, it’s generally a good idea to keep the alerts enabled—even if they get delivered at a decibel level that can make you jump clear out of your skin. That said, there are certain situations where you might want to ensure that your phone doesn’t spontaneously sound an alarm. Maybe you’re headed into the most important interview of your life. Maybe you finally got your sick toddler to nod off after a sleepless night. Maybe you’re already tracking the progress of an incoming hurricane with a fevered intensity and you feel like you’ve sort of surpassed the need for a blaring “flash flood” warning from your phone.
In those and other cases, you can silence or even completely disable the alerts. On your iPhone, open “Settings” and find “Notifications.” Scroll straight down to the bottom, past all your other apps, until you get to the section labeled “Government Alerts.” For AMBER Alerts and PSAs, your only option is to turn them on or off. (For reference, AMBER Alerts are sent out when a child has been abducted. PSAs, as the Federal Emergency Management Agency explains, “contain information about a threat that may not be imminent or after an imminent threat has occurred.”)
But for “Emergency Alerts,” which comprise everything that isn’t an AMBER Alert or PSA, you can switch off the option to “Always deliver.” If you do that, you’ll still get the notifications—but if your phone is on silent, they won’t make any noise.