Annual Testing of the Alarm System
If you suddenly hear alarm sirens going off on this day starting at 13:30, there is no need to worry—this is just the annual Switzerland-wide test of all their emergency alarm systems that always takes place on the first Wednesday in February. These annual tests serve to ensure that all residents of Switzerland are well prepared should an emergency occur. You may hear several sets of alarms. The first set is the “general alarm.” This is a regular ascending and descending tone that lasts for 1 minute and is repeated once after a 2-minute interval. Where necessary, the sirens can continue to be tested until 14:00. From 14:15-15:00 (at the latest), the “water alarm” signal is tested in those areas that are in the proximity of dams. It consists of 12 low, continuous tones lasting 20 seconds each and repeated at 10-second intervals. By 15:00 at the latest, the tests should be completed and the function of a total of 7,200 sirens confirmed.
If you hear these alarms outside of such test situations, all loudspeakers in public spaces, including at tram and bus stops, as well as in trams and busses, will provide information about the nature of the emergency and the appropriate response. This information will also be scrolled on the digital displays at bus, tram, and train stations. If you hear the alarms while at home, they alert you to turn on your radio for further information.
You can also download the national Alertswiss app, which sends alerts, warnings and information on dangers and hazards directly to users' smartphones. The Alertswiss app is available free for iOS and Android.