Tag Archive for: warnings


“There it goes again” – I thought.
At that moment yesterday, I knew the exact date and time.
All over the Netherlands, the public warning sirens are tested at exactly 12.00 noon on the first Monday of every month (except on national holidays)
The siren sounds for 1 minute and 26 seconds without interruption. (I am not sure why it is that precise period of time – perhaps a Dutch person can tell me why?)

Why do they do it?

It is a test signal, so if you know what it is, there is nothing to worry about!
If you don’t (foreigners like me) then that is another matter!
I can remember hearing it for the first time 12 months ago in Leeuwarden, it was a little disconcerting, as I had absolutely no idea what it was. Yet people were just going about their business as normal.
It is certainly a great way to identify tourists!
There are approximately 3800 sirens across the country.
They are a constant reminder to take action – if necessary.
The Dutch word for it is “Waarschuwingsstelsel”
The Government tests the sirens regularly, so people living here know exactly what they mean, and what they should do if there was indeed an emergency of some kind.
If the sirens are heard on any other day of the month, then it is not a test and people are advised to go inside – immediately, shut all doors and windows and turn on the television or radio for further instructions and updates.
There is now an additional system which sends a text message to every mobile device, which is tested twice a year.
For people who’ve never heard the test before it can be a confusing and slightly worrying 90 seconds.
Warning signals are everywhere – do we heed them?
What constant reminders to take action do you hear?
I have heard a few teases about the alarm.
One of my favourites was “That means it’s time to put your clogs on… it’s the law.”
Perhaps there are a few gullible folks, who may just believe that one!
How did you react on hearing it for the first time?
Do you have any unusual traditions where you live?