Civil defence sirene on roof
Photo: DSB

What the civil defence sirens mean

Norway is covered by a warning system that uses sirens to alert the population of any sudden danger. The signals are tested twice a year. On this page, you can find out what the various signals mean.

Seek information

When the sirens sound a series of three signals, separated by a one-minute interval, that means ‘important message – listen to the radio’. If you hear the signal, it is effectively telling you to seek information. Information about what is happening and what you should do will be disseminated through various media, such as radio, TV, and social media. This signal can be used in peacetime and wartime.

Air raid

If the sirens sound an intermittent signal for around one minute, that means ‘danger of attack – seek cover’. This signal could be used if an air raid was threatened or if there was going to be a war training exercise.

All clear

When the sirens sound continuously for 30 seconds, this means that the danger is over.

Listen to the various signals on the Civil Defence website.

Testing twice a year

The sirens are tested every winter and summer in peacetime, at 12:00 noon on the second Wednesday in January and June. The signal used for the test is ‘important message – listen to the radio’.

Notify faults

Sometimes the sirens can go off because of a fault. If this happens, you should notify your local Civil Defence unit immediately. You can find a list of Norway’s civil defence units on the Civil Defence website.

When are the sirens used?

The warning system may be used in peacetime and wartime to alert the population of sudden danger. In peacetime, it is the police who are responsible for deciding whether the warning system should be used. Potential situations could include an industrial gas leak, or a reservoir dam that has burst. In wartime, the Civil Defence may sound the warning sirens if there is the threat of an air raid.

Where are the warning systems?

There are around 1250 warning systems in Norway. Most of them are in towns and cities. The signals are designed to be heard by more than half the population.

See warning systems on the map

If you're wondering where the warning systems are located, you can see them on DSB’s interactive map. To display the warning systems on the map, choose Civil Defence from the menu and tick the warning system box.

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