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What should I do when I hear the alarm signal?

In hazardous situations and emergencies, the authorities warn the public of a direct and imminent danger to the population with a general alarm signal and an emergency warning. The general alarm signal is sounded using sirens placed outdoors or, outside urban areas, mobile sirens on a vehicle.

Everyone should recognise the alarm signal and know what to do when hearing it.

Sireeni ja ääniaalto

  • The general alarm signal is a regularly rising and falling sound (7 seconds each) lasting for one minute, or a warning issued using loudspeakers.
  • The all clear signal is a continuous sound lasting for one minute. It indicates that the threat or danger has passed
  • The test signal is a continuous sound lasting for 7 seconds (at 12:00 noon on the first Monday of each month)

What to do if you hear the alarm signal

  1. go indoors
  2. close all doors, windows, air vents and ventilation systems
  3. stay calm, turn on the radio and wait for instructions
  4. avoid using the phone (including 112 calls) to prevent congestion on the lines
  5. stay indoors
  6. do not leave the area: travelling could be dangerous

Staying indoors and following instructions in a hazardous situation is the first step to protecting yourself, and it is usually enough. Everyone should recognise the alarm signal and know what to do when you hear it.

An emergency warning is always issued as the alarm signal goes off

The emergency warning is broadcast on all radio channels and, if necessary, posted on YLE’s, MTV3’s and Nelonen’s teletext page 112 as well as shown in television programmes as running text on top of the screen. The purpose of the emergency warning is to warn the public about a hazardous incident and to give them instructions.

Do not to believe everything you read on the social media.

Check the source of the information and only follow official channels used by the authorities.

Testing of the alarm system

The alarm system is maintained to prepare for actual incidents, and it must be tested regularly. The sirens are tested at 12:00 noon on the first Monday of each month by sounding a test signal. The test signal is a continuous sound that lasts for 7 seconds. If you hear the test signal, you do not need to do anything.

Do not call the emergency number 112 to enquire about the signal!

The emergency warning system on television is tested at 11:20 a.m. on the first Monday of each month (112). The emergency warning system on the radio is tested annually on 11 February (112).

An alarm signal is sounded in the event of a gas leak or radiation hazard

In the event of a gas leak, follow the instructions above, but also note the following:

If you are already indoors and smell gas

  • put a wet cloth in front of your mouth and breathe through it
  • go upstairs and stay there if possible
  • stay calm, listen to the radio and wait until the danger is over

If you are outdoors and cannot go inside

  • move in a crosswind direction to try and get away from the gas cloud
  • go to a location that is as high as possible, such as a hilltop
  • put wet clothing, grass, peat or moss in front of your mouth and breathe through it

In the event of a radiation hazard:

The radiation situation is continuously monitored throughout Finland. Even very minor changes in radiation levels are detected at once, and citizens are informed immediately.

1. Go indoors

Seal the doors, windows and air vents (adhesive tape, towels, clothing) and shut off the ventilation system. This way you can keep radioactive particles out. Move to central parts of the house/flat. The best protection is offered by an underground, well-sealed basement with no windows.

2. Prepare to take an iodine tablet

Only take an iodine tablet if you are told to do so by the authorities on the radio or TV. Iodine tablets prevent the accumulation of radioactive iodine in the thyroid gland but do not provide any other protection against radiation. Be prepared in advance and purchase iodine tablets at a pharmacy. You may not/cannot go out and buy iodine tablets in the middle of a hazardous situation. 

3. Protect water and food – also for animals

Package food in tight containers or plastic bags. Put the tightly sealed foods into a fridge or freezer, as these appliances give effective protection against radioactive dust. Also protect food, fodder and water intended for animals.

4. Read, listen to and look up additional instructions and follow the media

More instructions will be issued by the rescue authorities, the police, the Ministry of the Interior or the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, usually on all media including the radio, television, the Internet, and Yleisradio’s teletext pages 868 (Rescue services) and 867 (Radiation safety pages). Be cautious about social media publications and check their source.

I have to go out – do I?

Think carefully: do you really need to go out? If you find that you do, put on tight-fitting clothes that cover your entire body and skin. For example, you could wear rain clothes. Use a respirator mask or cover your face with a towel or a paper towel to prevent radioactive particles from entering your lungs. When you return, rinse the rain clothes before coming inside (if possible). When you come in, take all your clothes off in the hall, close the hall door and wash yourself carefully. 

Read more:

Alarm signal
Police
Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority
Ministry of the Interior
Rescue departments