National emergency signal

Last updated: 05/03/2023


The National Emergency Signal involves the broadcasting of an audible signal (a siren) to alert the population to imminent danger. The signal is a modulated sound (rising and falling) including three sequences lasting one minute with a pause of five seconds between each sequence

In what situations would it be broadcasted?

It is broadcasted in the event of a major accident which requires confinement, for example a toxic cloud, a nuclear accident, a storm or even an attack etc.
The signal warns you so that you can take measures to protect yourself.
On the first wednesday of every month at 12.00 the sirens are tested. On these occasions, the National Emergency Code is only partially broadcasted.

What should I do if I hear it?

When you hear this signal, you must scrupulously obey the following safety instructions:

Seek shelter immediately

If you are at home, at work or in a public building:

  • Do not go out
  • Do not drive away, it would be dangerous to go out on the road and you would risk getting in the way of emergency vehicles

If you are outside:

  • Go into the nearest building
  • Do not stay outside, as you would be exposed to any danger

If you are in the car:

  • Park the car, stop the engine and go into the nearest building
  • You are not safe in your vehicle

Close everything in order to slow down the potential penetration of toxic gas

This is what we call confinement

  • Close doors and windows
  • Switch off and block any ventilation shafts
  • In the event that windows were broken during the accident, seek refuge in a room where there are no windows or where the windows are intact
  • Switch the radio or television on

All the details concerning the nature of the danger, the development of the situation and the safety instructions to obey will be given to you on the radio or on the television.

What not to do

Do not go and get your children from school

Your children are more safe at school than they are in the street.
The teachers are familiar with the safety instructions.
They will take care of your children, make sure they are in a safe place and reassure them.
Furthermore, by travelling you risk putting yourself in danger unnecessarily and getting in the way of emergency services.

Do not make phone calls

The telephone lines must remain free for the emergency services.
You will be given information on the radio.

Do not smoke, avoid any flames or sparks

Avoid switching lights or electronic equipment on or off
Any flame or spark could cause an explosion.

End of emergency signal

The end of the emergency is announced with a sustained signal (not modulated) lasting 30 seconds.
This signal means that the danger has passed and that you can resume normal activity.

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