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Alerting the public

Rapid flow of information is essential

Disasters can occur at very short notice and sometimes without any advance warning. This is why it is so important to ensure a fast flow of information and to alert the public in time. Switzerland has a nation-wide network of sirens by which the population at risk can be alerted. The flood alarm applies to areas below a water retaining structure (leave threatened area immediately!), the general alarm is sounded for all other dangers (supplemented with radio information).

Extremely available

Basically, it must be possible to alert the entire population. With approx. 5,000 stationary and 2,200 mobile sirens the ambitious goal has almost been achieved in inhabited areas. Stationary sirens are operated in residential areas, mobile ones in scattered settlements. Persons in residential areas living in particularly soundproofed buildings (noise-proof windows) and very deaf persons cannot be warned directly. The situation is similar for people who, although they hear the sirens, cannot pick up – for instance because they do not speak the language – the necessary information. Therefore, it is important for neighbours to inform each-other.

Self-responsibility called for

After the general alarm has been sounded, information is always provided by radio. If there is a power failure, the authorities may also use other means to alert the public and give instructions such as megaphones, couriers and leaflets. However, the authorities and task force organisations also rely on the self-responsibility of the population: The agencies responsible for alerting them and the Federal Office for National Economic Supply (FONEC) recommend having a transistor radio ready with a spare set of batteries. Neither does the car radio depend on the public power grid for functioning. It is also always important to inform the neighbours: If you do not understand why an alarm has been sounded, ask someone in your neighbourhood! And inform the others!

Federal Office for Civil Protection FOCP Polyalert
Guisanplatz 1B
CH-3003 Bern


Federal Office for Civil Protection FOCP

Guisanplatz 1B
CH-3003 Bern