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Big “howling day” coming up on 1st May – thankfully no need to worry

The testing of the howling sirens is an annually recurring event, taking place on the first Wednesday in May at 12:00. A reminder of what to do should they start on any other date.

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By Bente D. Knudsen   Picture: Beredskabsstyrelsen

Denmark has a nationwide warning system for the population, a siren system which sounds like a loud howling, to alert people to go inside, close windows and doors and listen to the radio or television.

It is operated by Beredskabstyrelsen, The Danish Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) and its 1,078 sirens cover 80 percent of the population.

During the cold war, and up until 1993, it was tested once a week, first on a Saturday and later on a Wednesday, always at noon, so Danes were used to hearing it.

Since 1994, there is only one annual sounding of the siren warning system and it always takes place on the first Wednesday in May at noon.

All sirens are tested every night (without sound) to make sure they are ready should the need arise.

The annual test with sound is to make sure the population remembers what to do should they hear it .

As it only is tested once a year, everyone needs reminding that it is just a TEST, no need to be alarmed.

Danish radio and newspapers generally warn about the upcoming annual day.

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The sirens produce a special sound signal to warn of a danger situation. The signal consists of a sound that rises fast and then slows down gradually. This signal is sounded four times in total, lasting 45 seconds.

The siren warning system is also used when the danger is over. The system produces another sound to signal the end of the danger. This sound signal is one long uniform tone lasting 45 seconds.

Both signals are tested on 1 May 2024 at noon.

When a major accident or disaster involves acute danger of injury or property damage it is possible to warn the population by means of the siren system. Therefore if you hear the siren warning at any other time (than the test day 1 May 2024), go inside and tune into DR or TV2.

Preferably make sure that all bystanders have understood the warning signal as well. DR and TV2 will inform about the situation, issuing instructions of what to do.

The messages originate from the police or other authorities who want to use the system in case of a major accident or disaster.

The siren warning system can be used to warn the population in one go and it can also be used in regional or local areas, here the police will start the sirens locally and so warn specific areas of the country.

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You will hear the siren signals three times

At 12:00 – this means go inside

At 12:04  – this means go inside

At 12:08 – the final one meaning the danger is over.

The first two – which mean go inside – consist of a loud tone, which rises quickly and then falls slowly. You will hear it four times and each signal lasts 45 seconds.

The last is one long tone, which lasts for 45 seconds and means the danger is over.

A new app can be downloaded from App store or Google Play, if you want to get warnings from Beredskabstyrelsen on your phone.

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