Don’t worry if you hear civil defence sirens today – they are routinely tested on the same day every month.
The système d’alerte et d’information des populations (SAIP) is tested on the first Wednesday of every month throughout the country.
With the war in Ukraine dominating news headlines, however, it was feared the sound might cause alarm, so Pompiers de France have reassured the public.
Test sirens include only one one-minute and 41 seconds cycle, with the sound rising and falling.
In the event of real danger, the sound would be the same, but there would be three cycles, separated by a five-second gap.
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 préfecture said.
In the case of a real incident, you should find shelter, either at home or in a public building, preferably somewhere without windows.
“Stop any air conditioning, heating or ventilation system” and “listen to the radio”, where further instructions would be issued.