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Issuing natural danger warnings to the public

Constantly monitoring

The relevant government agencies are constantly monitoring the situation with regard to natural dangers, and are responsible for issuing warnings to the authorities and the public. The offices and agencies and their respective responsibility areas are as follows:

  • Dangerous weather conditions: Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology (MeteoSwiss)
  • Floods and associated mud and landslides: Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN)
  • Forest fires: Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN)
  • Avalanches: Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF)
  • Earthquake alerts: Swiss Seismological Service (SED) at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich

Broadcast obligation

The current natural danger situation in Switzerland is published at The individual specialist agencies take a coordinated approach when issuing warnings, and use a scale of 1 to 5 to define the danger category of each danger warning instance. Warnings of severe and very severe dangers may be subject to a broadcast obligation, in which case they are issued as ‘governmental warnings’ by public and private radio and television stations.

The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) hub

The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) in the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP) acts as a hub for rapid, reliable and coordinated communication of warnings from the specialist agencies to the media stations that are subject to the broadcasting obligation. The NEOC is also responsible for ensuring that the warnings issued to the public are coordinated, in terms of content and timing, with those issued to the authorities (Federal Offices/Cantons).

Cantonal departments and agencies

On the basis of on-going monitoring of the natural danger situation expert agencies are often able to perceive potential incidents early on. Warnings are thus – contrary to alerts – issued before the actual damaging incident occurs. In the event of severe weather, the relevant cantonal and/or communal authorities are responsible for communicating definite instructions to the public and giving advice on what action to take.