Earthquake alarm for the population


Today, the seismic phenomenon is fairly well known, but it is still impossible to predict where, when and with what intensity an earthquake will occur. Current scientific knowledge does not make it possible to give the alert early enough before the arrival of the destructive waves of the earthquake, in particular in order to evacuate the population from their homes.


Federal Office for Civil Protection OFPP


Transmission of the alarm to the population

A disaster can happen at any time. The authorities are responsible for quickly transmitting the alarm in case of danger to the population.


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Sirens as a means of transmitting the alarm to the population

In Switzerland, some 5,000 fixed (remote-controlled) sirens are used to transmit the general alarm to the population, in addition to about 2,200 mobile sirens.





Two alarm signals

There are two ways of transmitting the alarm to the population: the general alarm and the water alarm.


General alarm

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The general alarm consists of a continuous oscillating sound broadcast for one minute by the fixed sirens and repeated after five minutes. It is triggered in case of danger to the population. It prompts the population to immediately switch on the radio to learn about behavioural instructions or official communications. For the population, the general alarm means :

  • listen to the radio or get information via Alertswiss ;
  • follow the instructions of the authorities ;
  • inform the neighbors.


Water Alarm

Référence :


The water-alarm signal is used exclusively in hazardous areas near dams. It consists of twelve low-pitched sounds of 20 seconds each, separated by ten-second intervals. In the event of a water alarm, the population must :

  • Immediately leave the endangered area ;
  • follow the instructions and directions of the local authorities.


Annual siren test

Every year, on the first Wednesday of February, sirens are tested throughout Switzerland to ensure that the alarm system is working properly.




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