Germany rehearsed the disaster scenario last Thursday. For the first time also via a warning message via mobile phone. But not everyone affected got the message. A lot had already gone wrong on the first nationwide warning day two years ago. FOCUS online says what you can do to make it work the next time you try it.

The Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) drew a positive balance just a few hours after the end of the warning day. The authority praised itself in the highest tones.

“The test warning showed that our technical infrastructure is robust and that the technical problems of the past have been resolved,” said Ralph Tiesler, President of the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK).

But many people were not even reached in Germany. For example, numerous users complained that they had not received a warning on their mobile phone. Telekom customers in particular waited in vain for the warning message.

The BBK tries to limit the damage, especially on social media. The responsible social media department tries to explain to those affected that they should update the operating systems of the smartphone devices. Those affected should also change certain settings on their smartphone.

Last Thursday’s dry run served to overhaul the cell broadcasting alert system. It should work across the board until February 2023 and be tested again on the third warning day.

According to the current status, the next warning day is planned for Thursday, September 14, 2023.

If you haven’t received a warning message, there may be four reasons

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If Apple and Google do not provide you with any further updates for your smartphone, you can switch to warning apps.

There is NINA, for example, the federal government’s official warning app. Warning apps such as BIWApp and Katwarn also issue official civil protection warnings. Official weather warnings are available in the WarnWetter app from the German Weather Service (DWD).

Compatibility cannot be guaranteed for these programs either if the operating system is not up to date.

It’s not just the age of the smartphone if you stop receiving updates.

Often you cannot update because you are low on disk space or the server cannot be contacted.

If you are short on storage space, you should either use cloud services or remove old photos, apps and videos. Cloud services ensure that the storage space is created virtually. This frees up storage space on your smartphone.

If you cannot contact the server, check your internet connection or try again later. Smartphones often display this message if you want to carry out updates with a throttled Internet connection.

Basically, you should always carry out updates with an activated WLAN connection.

You can find out the age of the smartphone by looking at the model number and the manufacturing period. The operating system also provides information about this. If you still have iOS 13 and iOS 14 installed on your iPhone and no further updates are made available to you, your mobile phone is out of date for the “Cell Broadcasting” warning system.

The same applies if you cannot install the required Android operating system version 11 on Samsung, Huawei, Google Pixel, One Plus and other Android devices.

In this case you have to turn on your mobile phone. Airplane mode must also be disabled. Put simply, this means: In both cases, the device cannot be found. As a result, there are no warning messages.

The situation is different if cell phone reception is poor. Even if you have no reception at all where you are, the warning message should pop up on the screen without any problems.

If you have an iPhone, check Settings, then General, then Software Update to make sure your device is up to date.

Again, if you are using Samsung, Huawei, Google Pixel, Xiaomi, OnePlus or other Android devices, select “Settings”, then “System” and then “System update”. Follow the on-screen instructions

The “cell broadcasting” system, which displays a warning message on your mobile device in the event of a disaster, is pre-installed on all smartphones. However, in some cases it may be disabled.

You can turn on the system manually if you have the latest Android or iOS version.

If you have an Apple device (iPhone), change this under “Settings” and under “Notifications”. Scroll to the bottom of the preference item and check any box under Official Alerts, Alerts, or Cell Broadcasting. Depending on the iPhone, “Test message” may also be listed there.

If you do not find any information under this menu item, you should definitely update the operating system of your iPhone device.

For Android devices (Samsung, Huawei, Google Pixel, Xiaomi, OnePlus), you can turn on alerts under Settings, then Advanced Settings, then SMS Messaging. You must turn on the “Mobile Emergency Notifications” field.

Given the large number of brands and different menu navigation, the setting can also be directly visible under “Settings” and then “Security and emergencies”.

With the warning message via mobile phone, affected people can be informed quickly about important life-threatening events such as natural hazards, dangerous weather warnings, terrorist attacks or serious accidents in chemical plants.

This is particularly important in the event of a disaster. The displayed text message is 500 characters long, graphics and images cannot be sent. In the event of a disaster, the warning message states what the danger is and what those affected must do.

The disaster in the Ahr Valley in July 2021 clearly showed the weaknesses in German civil protection. Many of those affected were not warned in time. 180 people died in the flood disaster. At the time, the federal government declared that it wanted to make adjustments to civil protection.

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