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Axel Wright
Axel Wright

National Civil Defense Exercise Siren Natural Disaster Warning SMS Message

A civil defense siren, also known as an air-raid siren or tornado siren, is a siren used to provide an emergency population warning to the general population of approaching danger. It is sometimes sounded again to indicate the danger has passed. Some sirens, especially within small municipalities, are also used to alert the fire department when needed. Initially designed to warn city dwellers of air raids during World War II, they were later used to warn of nuclear attack and natural disasters, such as tornadoes. The generalized nature of sirens led to many of them being replaced with more specific warnings, such as the broadcast-based Emergency Alert System and the Cell Broadcast-based Wireless Emergency Alerts and EU-Alert mobile technologies.

National Civil Defense Exercise Siren Natural Disaster Warning SMS Message


Sirens are sometimes integrated into a warning system that links sirens with other warning media, such as the radio and TV Emergency Alert System, NOAA Weather Radio, telephone alerting systems, Reverse 911, Cable Override, and wireless alerting systems in the United States and the National Public Alerting System, Alert Ready, in Canada. This fluid approach enhances the credibility of warnings and reduces the risk of assumed false alarms by corroborating warning messages through multiple forms of media. The Common Alerting Protocol is a technical standard for this sort of multi-system integration.[3]

Most minaret speakers are used as sirens. The purpose of warnings is to notify the population of a danger that threatens their lives. Individuals must go to shelters or their homes, lock doors and windows, take appropriate protective actions, and listen through the radio and television for instructions of civil defense.[10]

In Mumbai civil defence, sirens were used during the Indo-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971, warning civilians about air raids by the Pakistan Air Force. At night, sirens were also used to indicate blackouts, when all lights in Mumbai were switched off. Daily tests of the sirens at 9 a.m. were recently reduced to once per month. They are controlled by the Regional Civil Defence Control Center, Mumbai, with input from Indian Defence Services. Sirens are also used to denote a minute's worth of silence on special occasions.[12]

Singapore currently has a network of 284 stationary sirens named the Public Warning System which warns the entire country of air raids, as well as human-made and natural disasters (except earth tremors). Singapore's sirens are tested at noon on the first day of every month. During the test, the sirens sound a light cheerful chime instead of any of the three signals. The sirens look very similar to the ECN3000 Israel version.[citation needed]

Nearly all towns and cities are equipped with civil defense sirens in case of natural disasters or missile attacks from North Korea. South Korea holds civil defense drills every month to prepare for such scenarios.[13]

The Czech Republic has around 6,000 sirens. Within these 6,000 sirens which include mechanical sirens and electronic sirens, are tested every first Wednesday of the month. There are three warning signals, which are accompanied by a verbal message in Czech and usually with an English and German translation on electronic sirens. There is also an emergency broadcast on TV channels, maintained by Česká televize, and radio channels, maintained by Český rozhlas.

In France, the emergency population warning network is called the "Réseau national d'alerte" (RNA). The system is inherited from the air raid siren network (défense passive) developed before World War II. It consists of about 4,500 electronic or electromechanical sirens placed all over France.[21] The system is tested each month at noon on the first Wednesday. The most common siren type is the electromechanical KM Europ 8 port single tone siren. These sirens have a very characteristic sound: a very fast wind-up and a lower pitch than most sirens (the pitch is comparable to a STL-10 on a lower frequency resulting on a lower pitch). A recording of these sirens was used in the movie Silent Hill.[citation needed]

In Germany, the Warnämter ('warning authorities') were closed in the 1990s after the threat of the Cold War was over, since the ability to alert the public was then considered unnecessary. As the civil defense sirens were also frequently used to alert volunteer firefighters, many sirens were sold to municipalities for a symbolic price; others were dismantled. In the 2000s, it was realized that the ability to warn the public is not only necessary in cases of war, but also in events like natural disasters, chemical or nuclear accidents, or terrorist attacks. As a result, some cities like Düsseldorf and Dresden began to rebuild their warning sirens. In Hamburg, the sirens are still operational. They also warn the public during storm surges; for instance, all towns in the Moselle Valley continue to operate and test their warning sirens. The majority of operational sirens in Germany are either electric-mechanical type E57 or electronic sirens.

In Romania, civil defense sirens have been used since the early 1930s. Originally, each street had a small siren on top of a high-rise building, which could be powered mechanically. During World War II, the sirens had a single continuous tone to warn of an air strike.[30]

Since the 1990s, civil defense sirens have been replaced by electronic sirens and the procedure has been simplified. As of 2013, there are four playable tones: a natural disaster warning, an upcoming air/nuclear strike, an imminent air/nuclear strike, and an "all clear" signal. Taking shelter is no longer a legal requirement, although ABC shelters are still operational.[32]

Switzerland currently has 8,500 mobile and stationary civil defense sirens, which can alert 99% of the population.[41] There are also 700 sirens located near dams.[41] Every year on the first Wednesday of February, Switzerland's sirens are tested to see if they are functioning properly. During this test, general alert sirens as well as sirens near dams are checked.[41] The population is informed of the test in the days leading up to the tests by radio, television, teletext, and newspapers, and the siren tests do not require the population to take any special measures.[41]

In January 2010, 13 public warning sirens on the island of Guernsey that had first been installed in 1937 were due to be retired and replaced by text messages. This followed claims by the Home Department that the sirens had "reached the end of their useful working life". The sirens had previously been used to warn of major incidents.[56] From 1950 to 2010, the Civil Defence Committee took responsibility for the sirens, and had tested them annually since 9 May 1979.[57] Members of the public had criticised the decision,[44] and Deputy Janine Le Sauvage claimed that sirens were the only way everyone knew there was an emergency.[58] In February 2010, 40 islanders formed a protest march opposing the proposal to retire the sirens.[59] The campaigners accused the government of not listening to them, as an online petition calling for the sirens to be saved was signed by more than 2,000 people.[60] In April 2010, it was decided to dismantle the public warning system.[61] Emergency planners had proposed to use a new warning system that would contact residents by telephone; however, this was abandoned due to technical limitations and local media and other communication methods are used instead.[62] Only 2 remain in Guernsey, one in Victoria Tower, which sounded off once at around 2017, and another, active for a quarry.

Sirens began to replace bells for municipal warning in the early 1900s, but became commonplace following America's entry into World War II. Most siren models of this time were single-tone models which often sounded almost an octave higher in pitch than their European counterparts. Dual-tone sirens became more common in the 1950s, but had been used in some areas since about 1915. During the Cold War, standard signals were used throughout the country for civil defense purposes, referred to as "alert" and "attack." Volunteer fire departments generally used a different siren signal. Many towns, especially in California and New England, used coded air horns or diaphones for fire calls and reserved sirens for civil defense use.

In the United States, there is no national level alert system. Normally, sirens are controlled on a county or local level, but some are controlled on a state level, such as in Hawaii. Sirens are usually used to warn of impending natural disaster; while they are also used to warn of threats of military attacks, these rarely occur in the United States. Throughout the Great Plains, Midwest, and South, they are typically used to warn the public to take cover when a tornado warning is issued, sometimes even for severe thunderstorm warnings, and very rarely used for anything else. They are generally required in areas within a ten-mile radius of nuclear power plants. In the South and on the East Coast (except for Texas, Maine, Florida and New Hampshire), sirens are used to inform people about approaching hurricanes.

Around mainly suburban areas of big cities like Bahia Blanca, Mar De Plata, Rosario, Cordoba and Comodoro Rivadavia, in police stations, fire stations, factories, weather stations, city halls and amongst common public neighbourhoods, warning sirens can be found. Most of the common models are a special model which isn't completely identified yet as of now, which however, looks like a vertical Klaxon GP6/10, a Mechtric MS22 or a vertically installed mechanical or electro-mechanical 8, 9, 11, or 12 port single tone siren, most of which have 6 rectangular horns and is most likely identified as a Kingvox. They sound off for terrorism attacks, bushfires, dam leakages, chemical plant issues, life-threatening/extremely severe weather alerts which are certain to happen, incoming enemy attack and any other common natural disasters. Other models present in the country's warning system include Federal Signal, Elektror/Siemens, Whelen, Telegrafia, Klaxon and Hörmann. In extremely urban areas like Buenos Aires, most of the mechanical sirens which used to operate in a large amount were decommissioned and replaced with a smaller amount of electronic sirens, SMS alerts to phones and in some cases, as EAS alerts to TV. In some areas around the suburban areas of the big cities, over the years and since the 2010s, some sirens were decommissioned due to maintenance upkeep even though most of them remain active.


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