top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
Explore
arrow down

Why people in France should not worry if they hear sirens at midday

Due to the Ukraine conflict, authorities are reminding people that civil defence sirens are always tested on the first Wednesday of every month. Here’s how to tell the difference between a test and a real alert

The siren on Castle Hill, Nice Pic: Konstantin Gushcha / Shutterstock

Civil defence sirens will be tested around France today (Wednesday, March 2) around midday, and people should not worry if they hear them. 

The Système d’alerte et d’information des populations (SAIP) is tested on the first Wednesday of every month but with scenes from the conflict in Ukraine currently dominating the news, the sound of the sirens may cause alarm. 

Pompiers de France have anticipated this with a tweet reminding people that departmental prefectures will be carrying out their usual tests today.

Test sirens only include one one-minute-and-41-second cycle, with the sound rising and falling. 

If there were a real danger, the sound would be the same, but there would be three cycles, separated by a five-second gap, and the end of the alert would be signalled by a further 30-second-long sound. 

Civil defence sirens are designed to warn the population of a natural disaster or attack. For example, sirens sounded in Rouen during the Lubrizol factory fire in 2019.

The monthly tests serve both to check that the sirens are working correctly and to “remind users of the behaviour to adopt in the event of a real crisis,” Bouches-du-Rhône’s prefecture said.

In the case of a real incident, when they hear the noise people must find shelter, either at home or in a public building, but preferably somewhere without windows.

“Stop any air conditioning, heating or ventilation system” and “listen to the radio,” where further instructions would be issued. 

Related articles

The monthly warning siren in France: What does it mean?

Emergency numbers in France and other helpful numbers

How to save medical info for French emergency services to use on phone

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Healthcare in France*
Featured Help Guide
- Understand the French healthcare system, how you access it and how you are reimbursed - Useful if you are new to the French healthcare system or want a more in-depth understanding - Reader question and answer section Aimed at non-French nationals living here, the guide gives an overview of what you are (and are not) covered for. There is also information for second-home owners and regular visitors.
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now