At noon on Wednesday, the Danish Emergency Management Agency (Beredskabstyrelsen, DEMA) and the National Police will test the warning siren system.
It’s a routine test conducted yearly on the first Wednesday in May, and officials are especially keen to remind the public it’s a scheduled drill and not a ‘real’ alarm, given the invasion of Ukraine and many Ukrainians who have fled to Denmark because of the war.
“This year, of course, we are particularly attentive to the Ukrainians who have come to Denmark and have had an experience with air raid alarms that is in a completely different context than the test we run here in Denmark,” Lars Aabjerg Pedersen of the Danish Emergency Management Agency told broadcaster DR.
A Ukrainian-language information graphic and fact sheet can be downloaded in pdf form from DEMA’s website. The graphic is also available in English and Russian, and the fact sheet in a number of other additional languages.
The warning sounds will fill the air for a short time in the early afternoon as emergency sirens are tested in the annual drill, which always takes place on the first Wednesday of May. The test will last about ten minutes.
The siren system, with a total of 1,078 sirens enabling them to be heard by about 80 percent of the Danish population, is operated by DEMA, which is part of the Ministry of Defence.
The sirens are fixed to buildings or poles in cities and urban areas with populations of over 1,000, although mobile sirens mounted on police cars can also be used in less populated areas.
Two distinct sounds are given by the sirens.
The first siren, signal 1, signifies ‘go indoors’. Signal 1’s tone rises quickly and falls again slowly, lasting for 45 seconds. If you hear the signal (outside of a test situation), you should go indoors and listen to the radio or watch DR or TV2 for further information. It is also important to make sure others know how to react, according to DEMA.
Signal 2, a long tone lasting 45 seconds, means ‘danger is over’. It is now safe to go back outside and carry on with your day, according to DEMA’s information material.
The agency’s website contains information in several languages on what to do if you hear the alarm sounding a real emergency.
In the event of a major accident or a disaster, the police may decide to use the sirens. At the same, time an emergency message from police or other authorities will be broadcasted by national TV stations DR and TV2.
It’s important not to call the emergency number 112 unless you or people are around your are in immediate danger — either during the drill or a real alarm. You may block real life-or-death calls from getting through, DEMA says.
Emergencies in which the sirens might be used can include the presence of chemical gases, radiation or hazardous smoke.
The sirens are able to warn the entire population, but can also be used regionally or locally to warn specific areas.