Siren Testing in Switzerland – Don’t Be Alarmed!
First Wednesday of every February
Annual Siren Testing Day
If you hear any deafening, shrill sounds going off in early February, don’t panic! It’ not the end of the world! It is imply the annual civil defence siren testing. Every year it takes place on the first Wednesday in February between 1.30pm and 3pm.
No Action Needed
Switzerland has around 8,500 mobile and stationary civil-defence sirens, and these can reach 99% of the country’s population. So on the First Wednesday of February, they simply test them all out, to check that they are all still working, just in case they ever need them for a real emergency.
You don’t need to do anything except cover your ears – unless of course you hear them going off anytime outside this date!
Two Alarm Signals
At 1.30 p.m. you will hear the “General Alarm” signal sounded across the whole of Switzerland, an ascending and descending tone, which lasts for one minute. It is then repeated once more after a two-minute interval. Sometimes they continue testing the sirens till 2 p.m.. From 2.15 p.m. to 3 p.m. (at the latest).
The “Water Alarm” signal is tested in areas close to dams. This is a different alarm, lasting 20 seconds and then repeated at 10 second intervals and is made up of twelve low continuous tones.
Auto Vignette Check Points
If you’re reading this at the beginning of February, this is an additional reminder to make sure that you have your Auto Vignette for driving on the motorway for the coming year, properly secured on your windscreen. At the beginning of February the police run quite a few checks, usually at the entrance and exits of motorways (although sometimes they make road blocks on the motorways too!), to check that you have a valid Vignette, correctly stuck to your windscreen.
Failure to comply can result in a CHF 200 fine!
For more information on the Vignettes see here.
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