Sirens to be tested across Switzerland on February 7
If you are at home and suddenly hear air-raid-like sirens blaring outside, the crucial thing is not to panic, it could just be a test. Every year, the authorities in Switzerland conduct what is known as a Sirenentest, to make sure that the country's alarms and sirens are in good working order. Here are all the details about the latest Swiss siren test, due to take place on February 7, 2024, and what you should do during the test.
Alarm and siren tests in Switzerland
Switzerland is currently home to around 5.000 permanent and 2.200 mobile alarms and sirens. These devices are located across the country, from cities to towns to mountains, so that the entire country can be quickly notified of any national emergency or disaster.
To make sure that the system works, the government runs an annual test of the permanent alarm system on the first Wednesday of February. While it can be quite a shock the first time you hear the sirens - especially if you hail from a country that doesn’t have a regular siren test - there is no need to panic.
Ahead of the test, the government notifies the public through posters in Swiss councils and via television, radio and press announcements. What’s more, those seeking further clarity are able to check on the status of the test using the AlertSwiss app on their mobile phones.
2024 siren test (Sirenentest) in Switzerland
In 2024, all alarms and sirens across Switzerland will be tested on February 7 between 1.30pm and 4.30pm. Users of the AlertSwiss app in every Swiss canton will be sent a message at half past one on the day, informing them that the test has started.
General alarm system to sound across Switzerland at 1.30pm
At 1.30pm, the so-called general alarm signal will sound across Switzerland. The siren itself sounds like a regular ascending and descending tone. The initial siren will last for one minute, and will then be tested again after two minutes of silence. If required, authorities are able to test the alarms until 2pm, but most will stop after the first two signals.
Water alert system to be tested from 2pm to 4.30pm
For those who live near a select number of Swiss lakes, rivers and hydroelectric plans, the water alert system will also be tested between 2pm and 4.30pm at the latest. This signal consists of 12 low continuous tones lasting for 20 seconds, which is repeated at 10-second intervals.
What do I do during a Swiss siren test?
During the test itself, residents of Switzerland are not instructed to take any action or any specific precautions, so you are free to go about your day as normal. After the test on February 7, 2024, the next alarm test will be held on February 5, 2025.